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Romania: former communist-era prison boss on trial for torture

Romania: former communist-era prison boss on trial for torture
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A former Romanian prison commander has appeared in court to face charges of torture and causing the deaths of 12 political prisoners during the country’s communist era.

Alexandru Visinescu, 88, is accused of subjecting political detainees in the notorious Ramnicu Sarat prison to conditions “designed to destroy them physically, by depriving them of medical care, food and heating and inflicting abuse on them,” according to the charge.

Nicoleta Eremia, the wife of General Ion Eremia, a former detainee in the prison, explained: “I’ve sent reports to the court showing Visinescu authorised solitary confinement with harsh conditions.”

“You can see the countless number of days my husband went without being given any food,” she added.

It is Romania’s first trial of a commander of a communist jail.

Visinescu denies any wrongdoing. He told the Associated Press earlier that the court would have to prove that his actions led to prisoners’ deaths.

Andrei Murar, former director of the government institute investigating crimes during communism explained: “A crime remains a crime no matter when it has been committed. I think this trial is important for Romanian society, because it shows the dimensions of the crimes committed during the communist regime in the 1950s and ’60s.”

In the ’50s, around 500,000 Romanians were condemned as political prisoners as the nation’s communist government sought to crush all dissent.

The trial opened in Bucharest before being adjourned until October.