Relevant institute files criminal charges against fifth Communist torturer


The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) on Tuesday announced publicly the name of the fifth torturer during the Communist-era, retired lieutenant major Constantin Istrate, a former second-in-command for security and regime of the Onesti labour camp and a former second-in-command and later governor of the Gherla Penitentiary.
The IICCMER Executive President, Radu Preda, said that the Institute also initiated a criminal investigation of Istrate, 88 of age, with the General Prosecutor’s Office, for committing crimes against humanity.
Prior to this, IICCMER requested the prosecutors to investigate torturers Alexandru Visinescu, Ioan Ficior and Florian Cormos and in the case of Iuliu Sebestyen who died in October 2013, the institute presented the result of investigations.
According to IICCMER, Constantin Istrate inflicted on the people who were sentenced an inhuman penitentiary system which exceeded in ruthlessness the limits of the rules of organization and operation of the General Penitentiaries Directorate. The prison regime was intentionally and repeatedly inflicted by Istrate Constantin and can be described as deprivation of food, pharmaceutical drugs and medical care, abuse and a lot of deaths occurring under his watch, according to the quoted source. According to IICCMER, Istrate was depicted by the former political prisoners as one of the cruelest torturers of the communist prisons through the ruthlessness of his prison regime.
The archives reveal that 216 prisoners died between August 1, 1957 and October 1962 but also during the period when Constantin Istrate was commander of this unit, as nine died during the three months when he was commander. A lot of prisoners at Gherla Penitentiary, led in the late 50s by torturer Constantin Istrate, depicted the suffering they endured then, reminding the beatings with the hammer on the feet and the prisoners that were killed. It is known that he was the torturer of Paul Goma and Octav Bjoza. From the latter’s confession, it was revealed that during a revolt at Gherla Penitentiary during which the prisoners were asking for a more humane regime of imprisonment, Constantin Istrate mounted a machine-gun on the terrace with which he annihilated the front of the prison.