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Romania Upholds 20-Year Sentence For Communist-Era Prison Chief

Ion Ficior, the former head of Romania's Periprava labor camp during the communist era. (file photo)

A Romanian court has upheld a 20-year prison sentence against the former head of a Communist-era Romanian prison for his role in the deaths of 103 political prisoners.

Romania's High Court of Cassation and Justice on March 29 rejected the appeal of Ion Ficior, 88, who claimed he was not responsible for the deaths because he was following orders.

After the court's ruling, Ficior was taken into custody by police.

Ficior commanded the Periprava labor camp between 1958 and 1963. During his trial, former inmates testified to the appalling conditions at the prison, including beatings, deprivation of food and medicine, rigorous work regimes, and unheated cells.

"Too many people died there and it was considered normal," former prisoner Ion Radu, who served 12 years at the prison for belonging to an anticommunist organization, told Romanian media. "He totally deserves this punishment. He was left alone for too long. He was a cruel man."

In 2016, Romania sentenced another former prison head, Alexandru Visinescu, to 20 years for his role in the deaths of prisoners at the Ramnicu Sarat prison between 1956 and 1963.

Based on reporting by Digi24, AP, dpa, and AFP