Genocide charge for Romanian who ran communist prison

Alexander Visinescu outside his home in Bucharest, 30 Jul 13 Mr Visinescu made no comment after being charged

Related Stories

Romanian prosecutors have charged a communist-era prison commander, Alexander Visinescu, with genocide.

It is the first such charge in Romania since the 1989 revolution which led to the execution of former communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu.

Mr Visinescu, 88, could face life in prison if found guilty. He was head of the Ramnicu Sarat prison in 1956-1963.

Prosecutors say political prisoners there suffered beatings, hunger, cold and lack of medical treatment.

Mr Visinescu lives in Bucharest and went to the prosecutor-general's office on Tuesday, where he was indicted.

He told prosecutors he was only following orders.

Former political prisoners, quoted by the Romanian news agency Agerpres, described him as "a very cruel man".

The Romanian Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes (IICCMER) listed him among 35 former communist officials whom it accuses of human rights abuses. It asked prosecutors to launch the case against Mr Visinescu "for first degree murder".

The institute said the prison regime at Ramnicu Sarat "can be considered as one of extermination, given the inhumane imprisonment conditions, which eventually led to the death of several political prisoners".

About 500,000 Romanians, including priests, teachers, doctors and peasants, were jailed as political prisoners in the 1950s as the communist authorities imposed a totalitarian system. In harsh prison conditions about one-fifth of those inmates died, historians say.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.