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Romanian Miners Fined for Clashed

February 19, 1999

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Eleven coal miners were convicted and fined Thursday after bloody clashes the day before that left at least one miner dead.

About 100 miners were injured and 550 arrested when police crushed Wednesday’s protests by miners enraged by the sentencing of union chief Miron Cozma to 18 years in prison.

Cozma, who had been sentenced in absentia, was arrested after the clashes.

Most arrested miners were released after the protests.

Eleven who had faced prison sentences as long as 15 years for attacking police were fined after a court in Craiova, 110 miles west of Bucharest, found them guilty of illegally carrying axes and knives in public.

The miners said they had found the weapons and had not attacked police. Such weapons were used in attacks on officers.

The miners were to be released Friday after paying fines of $83 each. Miners make an average of $200 a month, about twice the average monthly salary.

Cozma has begun serving the 18-year prison sentence handed down by the Supreme Court on Monday in connection with a deadly 1991 protest march to the capital, Bucharest. Cozma served 18 months for the offenses in 1997-98, but lost an appeal to the high court, which dramatically increased his sentence.

Three other union chiefs were arrested with Cozma. They are being investigated for abetting a criminal, a charge that carries a prison sentence of up to 16 years.

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