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Death Of A Torturer


Nicolae Plesita in an undated photograph

Nicolae Plesita in an undated photograph

The death of General Nicolae Plesita, a ruthless former chief of the dreaded Romanian Securitate, comes at a moment when former Eastern Bloc countries are preparing to celebrate 20 years since the collapse of communism.

Plesita, 80, died on September 28 in Bucharest at a hospital of the Romanian Intelligence Service.

He was the head of the foreign department of the Securitate in the early 1980s. Acting on orders from his boss, dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Plesita hired infamous Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias Carlos the Jackal, to bomb Radio Free Europe’s Munich headquarters in 1981. Several people were injured in the attack.

Plesita interrogated, beat, and tortured many dissidents. On some occasions, the ex-general, who is said to have killed at least two prisoners, recalled with fondness in TV interviews the beatings he had administered to dissident writer Paul Goma, and how he dragged Goma around the interrogation room by his beard.

After the fall of communism, Plesita continued to live in a villa in Bucharest, and last year he had one of the highest state pensions in Romania: $2,250 a month, or more than six times the average.

Needless to say, Plesita showed no remorse for having sought to crush “the enemies of the people” and their anticommunist dissent.

But he did show some regret. Not at what he did, but rather at what he couldn’t do. Here’s what he said about Radio Free Europe: "I wanted to kill all those at Radio Free Europe. They were all CIA agents. I regret we couldn’t kill them all."

Fortunately, he couldn’t, and neither could his master, Nicolae Ceausescu. Unlike Ceausescu, though, Plesita was never punished for his crimes. In spite of mountains of evidence, he was exonerated and left in peace by Romania’s judiciary -- a system which could not be reformed enough in two decades to punish the communist regime's henchmen.

-- Eugen Tomiuc

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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