Romanian police chief fired over slow response; 15-year-old girl dies

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s police chief and two county officials were fired late on Friday after authorities took 19 hours to respond to emergency calls from a kidnapped 15-year-old girl who died at the hands of her captor in the interim.

Interior Minister Nicolae Moga said he fired Police Chief Ioan Buda, Olt County Prefect Petre Neacsu and Olt County Police Chief Cristian Voiculescu over the case in the southern Romanian town of Caracal.

The victim called the European emergency number 112 three times for help on Thursday morning, according to the emergency phone center. A 65-year-old mechanic, Gheorghe Dinca, is suspected of killing her.

Police said they did not enter Dinca’s house until 19 hours after she called. Authorities struggled to locate the source of the calls and secured a search warrant even though it was not legally necessary. After getting the warrant, they waited for hours to enter the premises.

“Why (authorities) waited … must be clarified,” interim general prosecutor Bogdan Licu told private television station Antena3. “A girl who by all indications could have been saved has died.”

The case sparked outrage and hundreds of people gathered to protest outside the suspect’s house late on Friday. Romania’s president and prime minister called for an analysis of the response and punishment of those responsible.

At the scene, police found what appeared to be human remains in a barrel and jewelry. Police suspect the remains belong to the 15-year-old victim and to an 18-year-old girl from a nearby village who was reported missing in April. Forensics analysts were working to identify the remains.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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