Magistrates: Romania's prisoner pardon plan unconstitutional

A top Romanian judicial body says a government proposal to pardon thousands of prisoners, which critics say would reverse the country's anti-corruption drive, is unconstitutional.

The Superior Council of Magistrates said Wednesday that two government proposals to push through prisoner pardons by emergency ordinance violated an article in the constitution that requires such measures to be approved by Parliament. The ruling is not binding.

President Klaus Iohannis has strongly criticized the proposal. Thousands have protested against it in cities around Romania, saying it would help government allies convicted on corruption charges secure early releases.

Premier Sorin Grindeanu says the move was proposed to ease overcrowding in Romanian prisons.

The government says its proposal would lead to the release of 2,500 prisoners. Prison authorities say 3,700 would be freed.