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Ceausescu’s Son Denies Ordering Troops to Fire on Demonstrators

May 27, 1990

SIBIU, Romania (AP) _ The youngest son of executed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu insisted Saturday he never ordered the army and police to shoot at demonstrators during the bloody revolution that toppled his father.

Nicu Ceausescu, 39, appearing frail and tense, was flanked by two helmeted policemen as he testified on the first day of his nationally televised trial.

″I kept asking the security forces not to shoot at demonstrators,″ he said. He told the five-judge military court that the evidence did not support the chief charge against him, complicity in genocide.

Key prosecution witnesses were to be called Monday when the trial resumes.

Nicu Ceausescu was the regional Communist Party secretary in Sibiu, 155 miles northwest of Bucharest in southern Transylvania. The city was the scene of fierce fighting during December’s revolution.

While he steadfastly denied ordering troops to fire on demonstrators, Ceausescu admitted to a lesser charge, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

He also admitted he ordered the destruction of the Interior Ministry archive in Sibiu to prevent people from finding a list of informers for the Securitate, the hated secret police.

The trial, held in Sibiu’s cultural center, was expected to last several days. The building was ringed by half a dozen armored personnel carriers and about 40 soldiers in full combat gear.

During the 6 1/2 -hour court session, attended by about 200 spectators, Ceausescu testified that he had disagreed with his parents for at least two decades on economic and political issues.

Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu’s other two children - Valentin, 43, a nuclear physicist, and Zoia Elena, 37, a mathematician - have also been in custody awaiting trial, but no date has been announced.

The trial provided glimpses of the lifestyle of the younger Ceausescu, who had a reputation as a playboy with a penchant for violence.

Although he lived in luxury by Romanian standards - he had a mansion with a garden and swimming pool - he apparently feared for his life. He told the court that all his meals were brought by plane from Bucharest and that he never tasted ″any food from local sources.″

Press reports after the revolution described the younger Ceausescu as a hated figure who had committed rapes and had killed at least one person while speeding recklessly in his car. He was also reported to have lost at least $1 million gambling.

For his court appearance Saturday, Nicu wore a salt-and-pepper blazer and an open-necked shirt, as well as sunglasses.

His attorney asked if Ceausescu could sit during the reading of the indictment because he was still recovering from a stab wound suffered after his arrest Dec. 22 near Bucharest, where he was a passenger in a car driven by his cabaret-singer mistress.

Nicu needed surgery and six days of hospitalization after the attack by an unidentified assailant, the court was told.

According to the indictment, the younger Ceausescu’s order to fire on demonstrators was made in a telephone conference call with local party leaders.

″From now on we are in a state of war, not ... a state of emergency,″ the prosecutor quoted him as saying in the Dec. 17 telephone call. He said Nicu ordered troops to battle stations and said: ″You will shoot without warning.″ Eighty-nine people were killed in fighting between the revolutionary forces and Ceausescu’s security troops in Sibiu, the indictment said.

More than 20 former police officers and local officials in Sibiu have been tried and sentenced for genocide and other serious crimes in recent months.

Ceausescu denied issuing shoot-to-kill orders even at the height of the revolution on Dec. 22, just hours before his parents fled Bucharest when the army decided to back the revolution.

Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were arrested, convicted of genocide at a summary military trial and executed on Dec. 25.

Nicu Ceausescu testified that on the morning of Dec. 22, police and leaders of the local Securitate told him they were being shot at by demonstrators and asked him what to do. He said he told them to take their secret files, but ″don’t shoot at anybody.″

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