Romania's Justice Minister Tudorel Toader called for the country's chief anti-corruption prosecutor to be dismissed for "excess of authority," triggering protests and potentially destabilising a crackdown on graft.
Romania's justice minister on Thursday launched a procedure to sack the popular and internationally respected head of the anti-corruption investigation body.
Tudorel Toader from the left-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD) said that Laura Codruta Kovesi had "damaged the image" of Romania abroad and accused her of being "authoritarian."
"The battle against corruption cannot be allowed to hide anti-constitutional, illegal and defamatory behaviour towards officials in public institutions," Toader told a news conference.
As chief prosecutor in the DNA anti-corruption body, Kovesi has helped bring a raft of corrupt officials to justice in recent years in one of the EU's most graft-ridden countries.
This has won the 44-year-old Kovesi plaudits abroad but also enemies in high places in Romania, with many of those convicted members of or close to the ruling party.
The announcement late Thursday brought around 2,000 supporters of Kovesi out onto the streets of Bucharest and other cities, media reports said, as opposition parties cried foul.
The final decision on whether to sack Kovesi lies, however, with President Klaus Ionnahis, who is from the centre-right and who reiterated on Thursday he was "happy" with the DNA.