Former Communist prison commander charged with genocide denies charges, says he has no regrets

Source: January 14, 2014, Associated Press

A man charged with genocide for the deaths of political prisoners at a lockup he commanded when Romania was a Communist country pleaded innocent on Tuesday.

Alexandru Visinescu, 87, is accused of responsibility for the deaths of six inmates at the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 to 1963. Prosecutors said prisoners there were routinely subjected to beatings, hunger, insufficient medical treatment, and exposure to the cold.

No date has been set for Visinescu’s trial.

During a closed hearing Tuesday, he denied the charge.

Afterward, reporters asked the defendant whether he had any regrets, and Visinescu replied: “No way.”

About 500,000 Romanians were condemned as political prisoners in the 1950s as the nation’s Communist government sought to crush all dissent. Prosecutors say Visinescu participated in efforts to wipe them out. One-fifth of these prisoners died in custody, historians have said.

In October, Ion Ficior was charged with genocide for his alleged roles in the deaths of 103 political prisoners when he served as deputy commander, then commander, of the Periprava labor camp in 1958-1963.

Prosecutors say he “introduced and coordinated a repressive detention regime, which was abusive and inhuman” against political prisoners.

Both cases were brought to light by a Romanian government institute that investigates Communist-era crimes.

About 3,500 former Romanian political prisoners from the 1950s and 1960s are still alive. That is far below the 40,000 who were alive when Communism was overthrown in Romania in 1989.

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