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Romanian Prosecutors Indict Former President For 1989 Uprising Deaths

Ion Iliescu

Romanian prosecutors have formally indicted former President Ion Iliescu for crimes against humanity, contending that he shares responsibility for the more than 1,100 deaths that occurred during the December 1989 anticommunist revolt.

Iliescu, 88, appeared at the Prosecutor-General's Office on April 17 to hear the charges against him. He made no comment.

Iliescu, a former top communist official who had fallen out of grace in the 1970s, took power on December 22, 1989, after communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, fled Bucharest following a popular uprising.

Prosecutors said that Iliescu and his associates, who gained control of the military and the media during the uprising, had failed to prevent "numerous situations" in which people were needlessly killed.

President Klaus Iohannis last week approved a request to allow the prosecution of Iliescu, former Prime Minister Petre Roman, and former Deputy Prime Minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu.

Military prosecutors who last reopened the file in 2016 said that the "new political and military leadership" which took control after Ceausescu's ouster caused the deaths of many people in their bid to maintain power.

The vast majority of the deaths in December 1989 occurred after Ceausescu's ouster.

Prosecutors say that the state induced a general state of panic by broadcasting fake news.

Iliescu and his associates used radio and television to claim the new power had come under attack from "terrorists" loyal to Ceausescu and issued a call to arms for all able citizens.

Thousands of firearms were distributed to the population, and numerous deadly shootouts were recorded from December 22-25, when the Ceausescus were executed following a hasty and controversial trial.

Iliescu studied in Moscow in 1950, and reports said he had been on good terms during his university years with future Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Iliescu and Gorbachev have vehemently denied there was any cooperation between Moscow and Bucharest in December 1989, though TV footage shows Iliescu saying at the time that "we called the Soviet Embassy to introduce ourselves and to tell them who we are and what we want."

With reporting by Eugen Tomiuc, AP, digi24.hd,,
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