Former Romanian President Iliescu to stand trial for crimes against humanity

Former Romanian President Iliescu to stand trial for crimes against humanity
By Carmen Simion in Bucharest June 13, 2017

Romanian military prosecutors have sent former President Ion Iliescu and former Prime Minister Petre Roman to stand trial for their role in the brutal repression of street protests in June 1990. 

The decision to send the former Romanian leaders to trial was made exactly 27 years after the events, which led to the death of four people and injuries to more than 1,000. While Iliescu, now aged 87, no longer plays a large part in Romania’s political life, the case has been closely followed in the country since he has never been brought to account for the violence. 

Iliescu and Roman are among several other former officials accused of crimes against humanity, the Prosecutors Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice announced on June 13.

According to prosecutors, on June 11 and 12, 1990, the Romanian authorities decided to start a violent attack against the demonstrators. The protests took place at University Square in Bucharest and were some of the largest Romania has seen since the fall of communism. 

At that time, Iliescu held the position of president of the Provisional Council of the National Union and Romania’s president elect. Roman was prime minister of Romania’s interim government. Other officials sent to trial are Gelu Voican Voiculescu, deputy prime minister at that time, and Virgil Magureanu, head of Romania’s Intelligence Service.

The attack illegally involved members of the interior ministry, the defence ministry, Romanian intelligence and more than 10,000 miners and other workers brought in from different parts of the country.

The clashes took place on June 13, 1990, when the workers attacked protesters and occupied University Square together with the police to prevent the protesters from returning.

“The authorities’ repression continued on June 14 and 15 via a systematic attack carried out together with miners and workers from different counties who had become a force parallel to those recognised by the law,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

The miners summoned to Bucharest by Iliescu devastated the headquarters of opposition political parties and attacked citizens of Bucharest. 

“These events were the result of acts of diversion and manipulation of public opinion by state authorities who presented the events in the University Square in a distorted way,” the prosecutors claimed. 

Iliescu was Romania’s first president after the fall of Communism. He has repeatedly denied he is responsible for the violent attacks in Bucharest. Initially, Iliescu was investigated for war propaganda, genocide and inhumane treatment. The prosecutors then changed the charges to crimes against humanity.