UPDATED: Thousands protest in Romania over kidnapped 15-year-old girl

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Thousands of Romanians protested against the government on Saturday evening, outraged by authorities’ slow response to emergency calls from a kidnapped 15-year-old girl now presumed dead.

Alexandra Macesanu called the European emergency number 112 three times, saying she had been kidnapped by a man while hitchhiking to her home village from the nearby southern town of Caracal.

It took authorities 19 hours to locate and enter the premises where she was believed to be held, where they found what appeared to be human remains and jewellery.

Police suspect the remains they found belong to the 15-year-old Macesanu and to an 18-year-old girl from a nearby village who was reported missing in April, but forensics analysts have yet to confirm their identity.

On Saturday, suspect Gheorghe Dinca, a 65-year-old mechanic, was detained for 30 days pending a criminal investigation.

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Romanian police officers escort the alleged suspect (2-R) as they leave Dolj county court, Romania, 27 July 2018, issued 28 July 2019, after the man was accused of kidnapping a 15 year old girl, who is believed to have been killed, in the southern city of Caracal, Romania Photo: EPA-EFE/BOGDAN DANESCU FACE OF ACCUSED PIXELATED DUE TO ROMANIAN LAW

Protests were held in downtown Bucharest on Saturday evening and other cities  to protest the way authorities have handled the case, carrying banners saying, “Corruption kills,” “Their blood is on your hands” and “Romania is being killed.”

Romania’s police chief and two county officials were fired late on Friday. On Saturday, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said she was considering calling a referendum to introduce harsher sentences for rapists, paedophiles and murderers.

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