Reuters International

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis attends a joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (not seen) in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian anti-corruption prosecutors have asked President Klaus Iohannis to endorse a criminal investigation against the interior minister over allegations of favouring suspects in a wider case of embezzlement and abuse of power.

Interior Minister Petre Toba is part of a technocrat team of ministers that has been in place since November, when massive street protests following a deadly club fire led to the resignation of a previous leftist cabinet.

Toba is the latest senior figure to be investigated in a crackdown on corruption praised by the European Commission, which keeps Romania's justice system under special monitoring.

The minister was not immediately available for comment.

Prosecutors said Toba refused to declassify documents in a case against officials from his ministry's in-house secret service DIPI. They said they were investigating allegations of abuse of power and embezzling funds that cost the state 410,000 lei (77,776.94 pounds)

That case, which went to trial in May, showed DIPI officials rerouted funds meant for national security towards purchasing doll houses, darts boards, volley balls, archery tools, leather-bound deluxe edition books and an electric stove worth 17,000 lei .

By refusing to declassify the documents, Toba aided the suspects in that case, prosecutors said.

Under Romanian legislation, ministers can be investigated only with presidential approval. Iohannis is widely expected to approve the request.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie and Radu Marinas)

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