Romania parliament committee approves probe of ex-minister

A Romanian parliamentary committee has approved prosecutors' request to lift the immunity of a former minister so he can be investigated on suspicion of abusing his position by allegedly overusing official motorcades.

Anti-corruption prosecutors say Sen. Gabriel Oprea, the former interior minister, used a motorcade 1,607 times from Jan. 2-Oct. 21, 2015, an average of five times a day — three times more than Romania's president used the privilege.

There was public outrage when a policeman escorting Oprea died when his motorbike hit a pothole. Oprea resigned on Nov. 4 when the government collapsed following street protests over a deadly nightclub fire that killed 63.

A parliamentary committee approved the request to lift Oprea's immunity on Tuesday. Oprea denies wrongdoing. Parliament will vote Wednesday on whether to lift his immunity.