Romanian prosecutors investigate fuel theft at NATO military base

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian military prosecutors said on Wednesday they are investigating seven soldiers and a civilian for stealing roughly seven tonnes of fuel from a NATO military air base in the eastern county of Constanta.

Prosecutors have detained the eight suspects and are asking the court to approve temporary 28-day arrest warrants.

"The soldiers are a part of the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base and they have repeatedly stolen... kerosene and diesel worth approximately seven tonnes throughout 2022 to sell or use for personal interest," prosecutors said in a statement.

The suspects could not be immediately reached for comment.

It is the second criminal investigation in a year concerning fuel theft at the Kogalniceanu air base on the Black Sea, which U.S. forces have been using since 1999.

In late 2021, following a complaint from the U.S. government, Romanian prosecutors dismantled an organised crime group that stole roughly $2 million worth of diesel and other fuel over five years from the base.

European Union and NATO member Romania is host to a U.S. ballistic missile defence system and, as of this year, has a permanent alliance battle group spearheaded by French troops stationed on its territory in central Romania.

There are just under 4,600 NATO troops deployed to Romania at the moment.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Josie Kao)