Two men who were say they were detained and tortured by Romanian police have both died within a month, police said.
One of the deaths is being treated as suspicious, police said quoted by Pro-TV.
Nine officers from a Bucharest district police station are facing charges in the case.
Romanian Interior Minister Lucian Bode on Monday said one of the men who died had a terminal illness. He sent a team to the station to independently verify what happened.
One of the men died three weeks ago, apparently from natural cases. The other man, 39, was found dead in an apartment three weeks later. His death is being treated as suspicious.
Three police officers are detained and another three were put under judicial control in early March on charges that they illegally detained two men in September 2020. They are charged with beating one of the men after the pair called them out for not wearing face coverings in a public place.
Prosecutors are pursuing charges against a total of nine police officers in the case for illegal detention and torture.
„I don’t want to go into detail, but one of the men had a terminal illness and his family doesn’t want to talk about it. We have to respect their wishes,” minister Bode said Monday, HotNews.ro reported.
„We can make public the cause of death to eliminate suspicions, but I assure you we will get to the bottom of what happened. I am waiting for the results of the check,” he said.
The police officers were patrolling a Bucharest street at about 1:45 a.m. on September 1, 2020 when two men approached them and drew attention to the fact that the officers weren’t wearing face masks.
Masks have been mandatory in all public places for the last seven months as a measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
In response, seven police officers handcuffed one of the men and drove him to the outskirts of the city. Five officers allegedly beat him for 30 minutes, while the other two stood by and didn’t intervene.
The statement said that the man sustained beatings to his arms and legs and was also beaten on his fingers and soles of his feet.
The man was abandoned there after the incident, the statement said.
Two other officers illegally handcuffed the other man and shut him inside a police vehicle. They then drove him to the southeast of the city where they “removed his handcuffs and left him on an unlit street,” prosecutors said.
One of the men was subjected to „degrading treatment.”