Romania charges post-revolution president

Romania charges post-revolution president

Former Romanian president Ion Iliescu has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role in the aftermath of the insurrection that toppled the communist regime in December 1989.

Iliescu, 89, is accused of using the state media to spread false information and create fear of a “terrorist threat”, which helped create “friendly fire, chaotic shooting and contradictory military orders”, prosecutors said.

About 13 million bullets were used by the Romanian armed forces during the uprising. 

Around 862 people were killed and thousands injured in the days after Iliescu took power. He denies the charges.

Gelu Voican Voiculescu, a former vice prime minister, and ex-air force chief Iosif Rus are being accused of committing crimes against humanity along with Iliescu.

Rus is accused of ordering an air force regiment to change its insignia, which allegedly led to friendly fire and the deaths of 40 soldiers and eight civilians at Otopeni airport, Balkan Insight reported.

Voican Voiculescu also denies the charges and called the allegations “an act of political revenge”.

Their actions are blamed for the mock trial that resulted in the summary execution of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena on Christmas Day 1989.

A three-year inquiry into the revolt has just completed and the prosecutor general, Augustin Lazar, said the files would be submitted to the courts.

“The completion of this case by our military prosecutors is one of the most important goals in the management project I assumed publicly three years ago: to solve Romania’s historical files,” Lazar told the media.

Iliescu was a minister in Ceausescu’s regime and went on to lead the National Salvation Front, which took control of the country after the insurrection which began in the western city of Timisoara in December 1989.

He became interim president after the uprising and was elected president with 85 per cent of the vote in May 1990. It was an overwhelming vote of confidence in a man who had only stepped into the public eye five months earlier in the confusion of revolution.

Iliescu served another term from 2000 to 2004.

Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, welcomed the charges, saying that “finalising the judicial investigation into the revolution events, 30 years since communism’s collapse, is a necessary act and honours our heroes.

“The crimes of the revolution cannot go unpunished,” the president added.



Romania in December 1989. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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