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Romania splits child couple

Bucharest, Oct. 2 (Reuters): Romanian child protection authorities today ordered a Roma child bride and her teenage husband to live apart after their wedding prompted protests from European and local officials.

Hundreds of guests and a throng of reporters witnessed princess Ana Maria, 12, the daughter of self-proclaimed “king of all Roma” Florin Cioaba, try but fail to escape her lavish wedding last Saturday in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu.

The European Commission condemned Romania, which hopes to join the EU in 2007, for turning a blind eye to the wedding and called for immediate action to save the girl.

An experts committee in Sibiu interviewed the young couple and their fathers today and ordered the children to live separately with their families until they reach the legal age to be married.

The girl must also attend school on Monday.

“They must stop immediately any marital or sexual relations, otherwise we would be forced to consider other ways to protect them like placing them in a state child shelter,” Anca Dragan, head of child protection services in Sibiu, said.

A separate police investigation was also underway to determine if any crime had been committed.

Ana Maria should have undergone a medical test yesterday to determine whether she had sexual contact, but local police said today they could not force her to take the test. Guests at the wedding were shown a bloodied sheet to prove the marriage was consummated.

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