Lawyer: Romania suspect admits killing 2 teenagers

Candles are lit outside the interior ministry building in memory of a 15-year-old girl, raped and killed in southern Romania, after police took 19 hours from the moment she called the country’s emergency hotline to intervene, in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, July 27, 2019. Thousands of people took part Saturday evening in Bucharest in a march protesting the handling of the case, blaming Romanian officials for negligence, incompetence and a lack of empathy. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The lawyer for a man detained by police in Romania said Sunday that his client has admitted killing two female teenagers.

Lawyer Bogdan Alexandru told Romanian media that Gheorghe Dinca said he had killed 15-year-old Alexandra Macesanu and 18-year-old Luiza Melencu and burned their bodies.

Macesanu was abducted Thursday, while Melencu went missing in April.

Romania’s police chief resigned Friday after allegations that officers were too slow in responding to Macesanu’s phone calls to a national emergency hotline saying she had been abducted and raped by a man who picked her up while she was hitchhiking.

President Klaus Iohannis made a televised statement Sunday night discussing the missteps in police work.

“Romanian institutions failed in their duty to protect the fundamental right to life,” Iohannis said. “Those responsible will have to face harsh punishment. Sentences, however harsh, do not bring back lost lives. We must identify means to prevent such tragedies from ever being repeated.”

Over 100 people attended a rally Sunday night in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, in memory of the teen victims. It was organized by women’s rights groups and organizations combatting domestic violence.

Some protesters put tape on their mouths while others shouted “Police kill” and “Believe us!” outside the Interior Ministry, the former headquarters of the central committee of Romania’s communist party, on Bucharest’s Revolution Square. Graffiti reading “Resignation” and “Police Kill” was sprayed on the ministry’s entrance.

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