IASI, Romania - Romanian prosecutors launched an investigation today after a shepherd found dozens of human foetuses, some in plastic bags, in a forest in the northeast of the Balkan country.
"I saw five or six dead babies spread on the ground," Gabriel Avadanii, the 24-year-old shepherd who discovered them, told reporters in the nearby town of Iasi. "There were others in a blue bag but I didn't count them."
The authorities believe the 80 foetuses, between three and nine weeks old and preserved some 10 to 20 years ago, may have come from two medical research institutes at the University of Medicine in Iasi and been stored for students' experiments.
"I have been a criminal investigator for years, I've seen many dead bodies in my life, but I have never seen something as gruesome as this," said Vasilii Pretula, the prosecutor coordinating the investigation.
Workers at one of the research institutes may have accidentally broken containers holding the preserved foetuses and tried to cover up their mistake by dumping them in the forest, the health ministry said in a statement.