Romanian Communist-era prison commander charged with genocide

Sept. 3, 2013 at 11:17 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- The commander of a Communist-era prison is the first Romanian to face charges of genocide since former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors Tuesday charged the 87-year-old Alexandru Visinescu, the former commander of the Ramnicu Sarat penitentiary, alleging that under his command prisoners were subjected to beatings, lack of food and medical treatment, and exposure to the cold, reported.

Visinescu, who said he was following orders and was not to blame, did not comment.

As prison commander from 1956 to 1963, Visinescu oversaw the incarceration of many pre-Communist elite and intellectuals, including Ion Mihalache, founder and leader of the Agrarian Party, who died in prison 1963 while serving a life sentence.

Visinescu also was reportedly a member of the execution squad that killed Ion Antonescu, a Romanian soldier, authoritarian politician and convicted war criminal, in 1946. After the execution, Visinescu became chief of a women's penitentiary, where he was known as a torturer, before being posted to Ramnicu Sarat, said.

The last Romanian charged with genocide was Ceausescu, who was tried and executed in 1989.

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