Top Romania court candidate withdraws in anti-Semitism row

A former top official of a right-wing party in Romania withdrew his application to be a judge at the country's top court Monday after being accused of anti-Semitism.

The Centre for the Fight against Anti-Semitism (MCA) in Romania had urged the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) to reconsider its nomination of Lucian Bolcas, citing what they said were "racist and anti-Semitic ideas".

The withdrawal came amid a deepening anti-Semitism row in Romania after public TV broadcast a Christmas carol indirectly glorifying the Holocaust, drawing strong condemnation last week.

Bolcas, the former vice-president of the far-right Greater Romania party, said he "refused to be nominated" because he didn't want his name "to be used to divide the ruling coalition".

The Elie Wiesel Institute for Holocaust research in Romania said Bolcas had expressed "positive views on war criminals" from the Second World War.

Between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews died in Romania and the territories under its control during pro-Nazi marshal Ion Antonescu's regime, according to an international historians' commission headed by Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel.