Romanian ex-president Iliescu indicted for ‘crimes against humanity’

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Romania’s former president Ion Iliescu has been indicted for crimes against humanity for his role in the deadly aftermath of the 1989 revolution that toppled the country’s communist regime, prosecutors said on Friday.

The new stage of the long-running investigation was revealed 29 years to the day since the uprising reached the capital Bucharest, after beginning in the western city of Timisoara on December 16, 1989.

Iliescu, now 88, had been a minister in the government of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and went on to lead the National Salvation Front which took control of the country after the revolution.

Iliescu was elected president in 1990 and served another term from 2000 to 2004.

Alongside Iliescu, prosecutors indicted other four individuals, including former deputy prime minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu.

“Iliescu and Voiculescu directly spread misinformation through televised appearances and press releases, contributing to the institution of a generalised psychosis”, according to prosecutors.

Their pronouncements increased the risk of “instances of friendly-fire, chaotic shooting and contradictory military orders”, prosecutors said, adding that almost 862 people were killed in the late December upheaval.

The men’s actions also helped lead to “the conviction and execution of the Ceausescus through a mock trial,” prosecutors alleged.

Voiculescu denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Digi24 TV station.

“The whole trial is an act of political revenge. It’s sad and painful”, he said.

In a rare public comment on the issue in April, Iliescu had said: “I can hold my head high in the face of the judgement of history”.

According to prosecutors, 275 people have already faced legal action over their role in the attempted crushing of the uprising.

However, according to victims’ support groups, only a few dozen have been convicted.

The fall of Ceausescu came at the end of a momentous year in which communist regimes fell across central and eastern Europe — with the Berlin Wall coming down in November — presaging the demise of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.