Europe's graft watchdog: Major concerns for Romania's courts

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Europe's corruption watchdog has urged Romania to abandon a judicial overhaul that critics say will undermine the fight against corruption.

The Group of States Against Corruption on Wednesday criticized Romania's efforts to decriminalize some graft offenses and called for more safeguards in the appointment of senior prosecutors.

Under the proposed new laws, elected officials wouldn't be probed for bribery or influence peddling.

Moves by the leftist government to overhaul the justice system have led to protests, with critics saying the proposals will make it harder to prosecute high-level sleaze.

Among the changes is a special department to probe wrongdoing by magistrates. The watchdog group urged Romania to scrap it, saying it "could easily be misused to ... interfere in sensitive high-profile cases."

There was no immediate reaction from the government.