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Soldier Exhumed in Romania Probe

November 3, 1997

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ The body of an officer who had been slain with 54 other soldiers in 1989 was exhumed Monday in an attempt to shed light on a massacre during the collapse of communism.

By performing an autopsy, justice officials hope to determine if the troops died while resisting attackers or were murdered by other soldiers.

During the height of the political turmoil, Maj. Ion Patras was one of 55 officers from Campina, 40 miles northwest of Bucharest, sent to the capital to fight ``terrorists.″

But all the soldiers were killed on Dec. 23, 1989, near Bucharest’s international airport in what authorities have called suspicious circumstances.

Justice officials have detained two generals and a captain suspected of ordering other soldiers to open fire on them.

Lt. Col. Isac Vasile from the Supreme Court of Justice said chaos at the time of the revolution prevented an investigation into the soldiers’ deaths.

``But (now) we want to find out the truth,″ he said Monday.

The results of the autopsy are expected to be released in a month.

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