Thousands protest in Bucharest after Romanian police took 19 hours to respond to kidnapped girl's calls

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Several thousand protesters rallied in Bucharest after after Romanian police took  19 hours to respond to emergency calls of a kidnapped 15-year-old girl who has disappeared and is feared dead.

The apparent failings of the police and local authorities have sparked outrage in the country, as critics allege officials failed to take the alert seriously and reacted too late to save the teen, identified as Alexandra.

Amid chants of “incompetence” and angry calls for the government to step down, demonstrators placed flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial outside the interior ministry on Saturday evening.

A 65-year-old suspect has been taken into custody, prosecutors said Saturday, after investigators searching his home and garden discovered human remains and jewellery belonging to the girl.

The suspect insisted he was innocent and had never met the teen but failed to explain why she had used his phone, his lawyer said.

Interior Minister Nicolae Moga announced late Friday that he had sacked police chief Ioan Buda “because drastic measures are required” in the case, which has sparked a major backlash.

The girl was snatched Wednesday as she tried to hitch-hike home to Dobrosloveni in southern Romania, police said.

She called the emergency services three times on Thursday morning, telling the operators that she had been kidnapped by a man who picked her up as she hitchhiked back from a nearby town.



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