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Romanian President Pardons Miners' Leader

16 December 2004 -- Romanian President Ion Iliescu has pardoned a leader of Romania's miners who was serving a 10-year prison sentence for instigating unrest to undermine the state's authority.

Mediafax news agency reported that Miron Cozma was given the pardon yesterday.

Cozma had asked Iliescu to pardon him in 2003. Iliescu called Cozma's sentence "exaggerated," but did not issue a pardon then.

Iliescu has been supported by miners in the past. Led by Cozma, miners repeatedly came to Bucharest to quash protests against Iliescu's government in the early 1990s.

In 1999, Cozma led 10,000 miners in a protest march across Romania to demand higher wages and no layoffs in Jiu Valley's 13 mines.

Later that year, Cozma was sentenced to 18 years in prison for undermining the state's authority by leading a 1991 miners' revolt that toppled the government and left three people dead.