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Villagers investigated for building new bridge

TIRED of waiting for authorities to replace a bridge swept away last July by floods, Romanian villagers have finally given up -- and built their own.

The catch: They didn't have a permit. Now they're the subject of a criminal investigation.

Prosecutor Viorel Damu said yesterday that police are trying to identify those who worked on the bridge, which was built in a single day, February 6. The guilty parties could be jailed for three years or fined up to 70,000 lei (US$20,800), he said.

The mayor called that "absurd." He said villagers tested the bridge and limited the allowable weight to 2.5 tons.

And they'll tear it down again, too, he said - just as soon as authorities find time build a new one.

Marginea was cut in half when the river overflowed seven months ago, making it difficult to get from one part of the village to the other.

Police may be investigating, but on Thursday the prime minister commended the villagers' "solidarity."

Even the prosecutor seemed to relent. He said the villagers could escape punishment if an investigation concludes they acted out of a "state of necessity."


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