Europe

10,000 protest Romania government plans to pardon prisoners

  • Romanian President Klaus Iohannis waves to the crowd in University Square during a protest against the government's proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.  Some thousands marched through the streets of the Romanian capital and other cities to protest against the pardon of prisoners which critics say could weaken the anti-corruption fight. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

    Romanian President Klaus Iohannis waves to the crowd in University Square during a protest against the government's proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Some thousands marched through the streets of the Romanian capital and other cities to protest against the pardon of prisoners which critics say could weaken the anti-corruption fight. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)  (The Associated Press)

  • Romanian President Klaus Iohannis waves to the crowd in University Square during a protest against the government's proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.  Some thousands marched through the streets of the Romanian capital and other cities to protest against the pardon of prisoners which critics say could weaken the anti-corruption fight. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

    Romanian President Klaus Iohannis waves to the crowd in University Square during a protest against the government's proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Some thousands marched through the streets of the Romanian capital and other cities to protest against the pardon of prisoners which critics say could weaken the anti-corruption fight. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)  (The Associated Press)

  • Some thousands march during a protest against the government's proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017.  Some thousands marched through the streets of the Romanian capital and other cities to protest against the pardon of prisoners which critics say could weaken the anti-corruption fight. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

    Some thousands march during a protest against the government's proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Some thousands marched through the streets of the Romanian capital and other cities to protest against the pardon of prisoners which critics say could weaken the anti-corruption fight. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)  (The Associated Press)

Thousands have marched through the Romanian capital and other cities to protest a government proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners which critics say could reverse the anti-corruption fight.

More than 10,000 protesters massed in University Square on Sunday evening, and later broke through police lines, before heading toward government headquarters.

Protesters cheered after President Klaus Iohannis, a government critic who supports the anti-corruption drive, turned up at the protest.

Some protesters were elderly, while others carried children on their shoulders. Demonstrators called the ruling Social Democratic Party "the red plague."

Premier Sorin Grindeanu wants to pass an emergency ordinance to pardon prisoners which his government says would ease overcrowding in prisons. Critics say it would help government allies convicted of corruption.

Prison authorities say 3,700 prisoners could be freed.