Archive for January 2014

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

January 29, 2014

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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Members of the REH group, in the European Parliament, welcomed the decision to dismantle symbols of totalitarianism in Georgia

January 29, 2014

Chair of the Reconciliation of European Histories group (REH), MEP Sandra Kalniete, in a letter to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament expresses satisfaction with the amendment to the Liberty Charter, adopted by the Georgian Parliament on December the 25th. The new amendment is aimed at actual enforcement of measures to prevent public displays of symbols of totalitarian regimes. This act should effectively stop the construction of monuments dedicated to Joseph Stalin, started last year.

Last year, on behalf of the REH group, Ms. Kalniete turned to senior officials in the Georgian government, expressing outrage at the fact that Georgia had approved plans to erect monuments in honour of the murderous leader of the Soviet Union. In addition, steps were taken for the European Parliament to formally condemning such behaviour. With the recent decision, Ms. Kalniete feels satisfaction that the work of the REH group may have contributed to the Georgian Parliament’s decision.

After Georgia’s decision to amend the law, MEPs were pleased to learn that the Stalin monument recently built in the city of Telavi was immediately removed. The law now provides real penalties for the glorification of communist and fascist regimes and facilitates the creation of a panel to identify and prevent such violations.

In the letter sent to the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Ms. Kalniete expressing support for the parliamentary decision and emphasised that this decision corresponds with European values and will help strengthen the already strong relationship between the EU and Georgia.

 Link to an article on the Georgian decision