Serious cases of abuse have been uncovered in retirement homes in Romania, a scandal that shocked the country and brought down the Minister of Social Protection on Thursday.
According to the first elements of the investigation carried out by the prosecutor’s office in charge of the fight against organized crime (Diicot), two groups are suspected of having “exploited vulnerable people by subjecting them to degrading and inhuman treatment”.
A hundred residents of private establishments around Bucharest were beaten, deprived of food or medical treatment, detailed the prosecutors, who spoke of conditions close to torture.
As part of the investigations, around thirty places were searched last week and four suspects arrested, while eleven others were placed under house arrest.
They are accused of having embezzled tens of thousands of euros of funds each month, allocated by the State for the care of the elderly.
“There is no doubt that the activity of protecting those who are elderly and vulnerable has turned into a cynical business aimed at making profits at all costs, even if it means making the residents suffer in a cruel way”, denounced the Social Democratic Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu during the Council of Ministers on Thursday.
“I had a discussion with Minister Marius Budai who informed me of his decision to resign,” he added.
The scandal was initially revealed at the end of 2022 by a Romanian NGO, followed by a flood of damning articles in the media. But the government was slow to react, the minister initially refusing to resign.
In front of the public turmoil, checks were finally launched in more than a thousand structures for minors, elderly and disabled. At this stage, 13 have been closed, 43 suspended and nine investigations opened, according to the report communicated by the authorities.
These “asylums of horror”, as the media call them, are “a national disgrace”, reacted this week President Klaus Iohannis, castigating “all those who closed their eyes”.