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Former Romanian Leader Iliescu Can Be Prosecuted For 1989 Deaths

Ion Iliescu (file photo)

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has given the go-ahead for the prosecution of two former leaders on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in the country's deadly anticommunist revolt.

Iohannis asked the justice minister to proceed with the prosecution of former President Ion Iliescu, former Prime Minister Petre Roman, and former Deputy Premier Gelu Voican Voiculescu.

The three were leaders of the National Salvation Front, established after communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was toppled on December 22, 1989.

More than 1,100 people died in Romania's revolt, the huge majority after Ceausescu's ouster.

Almost 30 years after Ceausescu's fall, only two generals have been convicted for the deaths, and doubts remain whether the uprising was a true revolution or a coup staged by the Communist Party's second echelon. Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed on Christmas Day in 1989.

Iohannis's decision came in response to an April 2 request from Romania's general prosecutor. Presidential authorization was needed because the events occurred when the three were government officials.

Military magistrates who reopened the case in 2016 said the "new political and military leadership" which took control after Ceausescu fled Bucharest was responsible for the deaths of many people because of actions meant to maintain their hold on power. Prosecutors say that state television and radio broadcast fake news generating collective panic.

Some of the evidence relating to the uprising has been destroyed, prosecutors have said.

All three have denied any responsibility for the deaths.

Iliescu, a former top communist official who had fallen out of grace with Ceausescu, went on to be elected president three times after 1989.

Based on reporting by Digi24.hd,, and AP