Romanian prosecutors indict ex-leader for revolution deaths

April 17, 2018
FILE - In this Thursday, May 17, 2007 file photo, former Romanian President Ion Iliescu gestures during a meeting with foreign media in Bucharest, Romania. Romania’s president has approved a request to prosecute a former president and prime minister on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in the country's bloody anti-communist revolution. President Klaus Iohannis says Friday, April 13, 2018 former President Ion Iliescu, former Premier Petre Roman, and an ex-deputy prime minister can be prosecuted. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian prosecutors on Tuesday formally indicted former President Ion Iliescu for crimes against humanity over his role in deaths that occurred during the anti-communist revolution.

Iliescu, 88, appeared at the general prosecutor’s office to hear the charges against him. He didn’t comment.

Iliescu came to power during the 1989 revolt in which Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu was toppled and executed.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that Iliescu, who gained control of the military during the uprising, had failed to prevent “numerous situations” where people were needlessly killed.

President Klaus Iohannis last week approved a request to allow the prosecution of Iliescu, a former premier and another former high-ranking official.

More than 1,100 people died during the uprising, the vast majority after Ceausescu’s ouster when Iliescu had taken power.

Iliescu recently defended his role during the revolt, and called moves to prosecute him “a farce, insulting the sacrifice and memory of those who fought for freedom and democracy.”

Investigation into the revolution has been halted and reopened several times. Only two generals have been convicted for the revolution deaths and doubts remain whether the uprising was a true revolution or a military coup.

Military investigators who last reopened the file in 2016 said the “new political and military leadership” which took control after Ceausescu’s ouster caused the deaths of many people in their bid to maintain power.

Prosecutors say that state media broadcast fake news creating a state of panic and some of the evidence relating to the uprising has been destroyed.

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