Romanian parliament passes law that may dilute graft fight

Romanian lawmakers have approved changes that critics say will weaken the European Union member's efforts to root out high-level corruption.

Parliament voted 167-70 Monday to change a law that obliges public officials to declare their assets and regulates conflicts of interest. Lawmakers and public officials banned from holding office due to rules violations could now see the ban lifted.

Lawmakers also approved a law obliging judges and prosecutors to pay financial damages for judicial errors made "in bad faith or grave negligence," which critics say could make magistrates wary of prosecuting or issuing rulings.

Opposition lawmakers whistled as the laws were approved, while members of the left-wing governing coalition cheered.

Thousands of Romanians have protested against the proposals saying they will make it harder to punish high-level corruption.