Romania interior minister: I didn't know police officer died

BUCHAREST: In his first comments about the death of a police officer escorting his motorcade last week, Romania's interior minister said Monday he was unaware of the accident at the time.

Hundreds protested against Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea during the weekend including some 300 motorcyclists who rode through the capital on Saturday carrying a portrait of the dead officer, reflecting widespread anger about the case.

Policeman Bogdan Gigina died after riding his motorbike into a hole on Oct. 20. Gigina was in a motorcade easing a route in Bucharest for Oprea.

Oprea said his motorcade stopped on that evening, but he did not know why. A police officer then told the vehicles to move on.

Oprea insisted he did not break the law by using the motorcade, but has not said why he needed it other than that it was for "professional purposes." He declined to take questions from reporters.

Leaders of the opposition Liberal Party said Monday they would file a motion of no-confidence against the government over the case, which has touched a nerve in Romania.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta has accused opposition politicians and journalists of speculating about the death for political reasons.

However, many are angry because they believe politicians abuse their positions by overusing motorcades, snarling traffic in the overcrowded capital city of 3 million.

Prosecutors investigating possible manslaughter say they have received incomplete information from the interior ministry and police.