Thursday, 23 December 2010

Romanian flings himself from Parliament balcony

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania's government survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Thursday in a session overshadowed by a man who flung himself from the chamber's balcony, apparently in protest over government budget cuts that had affected his family.
His injuries were not life-threatening. A thud reverberated in the chamber after the man, Adrian Sobaru — identified by the country's public television station as one of its engineers — jumped from a height of about 7 meters (23 feet).
He hit the benches shortly after Prime Minister Emil Boc greeted lawmakers. No one else was injured.
Boc looked startled and rushed over to Sobaru, along with other lawmakers, before Speaker Mircea Geoana briefly postponed the session.
Boc called the incident "a tragedy that shocked me," and appealed for calm "in these tough times."
The session resumed without opposition lawmakers, who walked out when their request to reschedule the no-confidence motion was not approved. The opposition needed 236 votes to topple the government — which survived because not a single vote was cast in favor of the motion.
Romania's is mired in recession and the government recently cut public sector wages by one-fourth. Sales tax was increased from 19 to 24 percent, as the government worked to keep the deficit at 6.8 percent in 2010. Its economy is expected to decline by 2 percent this year, after contracting by 7.1 percent in 2009. The cuts have angered many Romanians.
Photos show Sobaru standing on a balcony above where lawmakers were sitting before he jumped. A handful of lawmakers watched him fall. The images show Sobaru wearing a white T-shirt, with the words "You've pierced us. You've killed our children's future. Freedom," in a reference to government policy.
The first line was a reference to President Traian Basescu who, upon winning the presidential race in 2009, said, "I've pierced them," using a well-known line from a Romanian movie.
New organizations quoted colleagues as saying Sobaru had a disabled child whose benefits had been cut. The public television station TVR said he jumped "for personal reasons," adding that the station had given him support for "health problems he had in his family."
As emergency medical workers took him out on a stretcher, Sobaru shouted "Freedom!" — echoing cries of the 1989 fall of communism in which more than 1,300 people died. Romanians are commemorating the 21st anniversary of the uprising in which authorities shot unarmed protesters.
Sobaru sustained face wounds, and other non life-threatening injuries, said Catalin Carstoiu, manager at the University Hospital. He will undergo surgery and psychological counseling, Carstoiu said.

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