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Romania Ex-Leaders To Stand Trial Over 1990 Protest Deaths

Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu (file photo)

Romania's prosecutor-general's office says former president Ion Iliescu, ex-prime minister Petre Roman, and others will stand trial over the deaths of several people when coal miners violently broke up an antigovernment protest in 1990.

A statement on June 13 -- apparently issued to coincide with the 27th anniversary of the start of the violence -- said they are charged with crimes against humanity in the deaths and injuries during the June 13-15, 1990, antigovernment protests.

A controversial 1990 official toll says four people were killed and more than 1,000 were wounded during violent June 13 protests in downtown Bucharest and the subsequent two-day rampage by thousands of miners from the central Jiu Valley in the capital.

Media and witness reports said at the time that the death toll was much higher, and that provocateurs infiltrated peaceful demonstrators who had been staging a months-long antigovernment protest, setting police buses on fire and stirring clashes with riot police.

The disturbances allegedly allowed Iliescu, Roman, and Virgil Magureanu, the then-chief of secret police, to call the miners to the capital.

The prosecutor-general's statement said the group "agreed to stage a violent attack against demonstrators" peacefully protesting for democracy.

It said government forces illegally used "weapons of war" to shoot demonstrators.

Roman has dismissed the inquiry. Iliescu has denied the accusations. No date for the trial has been set.

Based on reporting by AP and