The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) confirmed on Monday the decision of General Prosecutor Tiberiu Nitu to reopen the investigation on the June 13-15 1990 miners’ riot, involving former President Ion Iliescu.
The Court partly accepted to reopen the case in rem for the commencement of criminal investigations for crimes against peace and humanity and murder.
Prosecutors are now allowed to reopen the criminal cases against Iliescu and former Romanian Intelligence Service director Virgil Magureanu. Other officials concerned by this decision are former Defence Minister Victor Atanasie Stanculescu, already sentenced to prison for his role in the 1989 revolution and stripped of his rank of general; General Vasile Dobrinoiu (retreated), a former commander of the military school of Baneasa, near Bucharest; General Corneliu Diamandescu (retreated), a former chief of the Romanian Police; Mihai Chitac; General Petre Petre (retreated), a former commander of a gendarme unit of Magurele, near Bucharest); and Emil Dumitrescu, a former head of the Directorate for Culture of the Ministry of Interior.
Gen. Pavel Abraham also appears in the case. In 2005, he was interviewed by the military prosecutors as former deputy head of the Baneasa Officers School, in the context where several people were detained and badly beaten at Baneasa as well as the Interior Ministry unit in Turnu Magurele during the miners’ riot.
The General Prosecutor’s office announced the reopening of this case on February 5, following a 1997 complaint of an association of the victims of the 1990-1991 miners’ riots. Ion Iliescu, former miners’ union leader Miron Cozma and former prime minister Petre Roman were among the defendants.
Tenths of cases were opened by prosecutors back then; some of them were sent to the Military Prosecutor’s office. Individuals and moral persons also complained about damages during the miners’ raid on Bucharest on June 14-15 1990. Plaintiffs described the illegal breaching of official institutions’ and political parties’ offices, followed by theft, robbery and assaults.
The prosecutors concluded at the time that approximately 1,300 people were wounded and around 100 killed.
Based on the legally required process of law, the prosecutors will resume investigations, identify the parties, witnesses and sequence of events. In the end, they will determine who, in their opinion, is guilty for the production of victims during the miners’ riot on June 13-15 and whom they would prosecute.
The Ombudsman, Victor Ciorbea, has recently challenged in the Constitutional Court the legal section under which the judges must certify the reopening of the cases and, if CCR rules the section unconstitutional, all cases opened under it would need to be reopened.
Concretely, the Ombudsman has contested in CCR section 35 paragraph (4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure according to which a judge may decide to reopen a case without the participation of the case prosecutor or suspects.
Ion Iliescu to be summoned for questioning
Ex-President Ion Iliescu, in office at the time of the events, will be summoned for questioning in this case where, six years ago, he received a no-prosecution decision . According to the result of the investigation, I. Iliescu may be prosecuted.
The ex-president seems assured. He said that anyone was free to analyze and comment on those events and that it was not a problem if historians or other interested parties were also looking into those moments. Asked by Mediafax to comment on the reopening of the June 1990 miners’ riot case by the High Court Prosecutor’s Office, Iliescu avoided giving a straight answer, saying that he could not comment on the subject.
Asked if he believed that the reopening of the case was targeted at him in any way or if it would affect him, I. Iliescu answered: ‘Why? No. I was contemporary with those events and I had some responsibilities, but this (the case being reopened – editor’s note) is an entirely different thing’.
‘Anyone is free to analyze and comment the events they have lived, closer or more remote, it is not a problem’, Iliescu added. He pointed out that what had happened on 13-015 June 1990 were ‘phenomena, manifestations’ he had lived and which were ‘factors that disturbed the social life, starting with the organization of the Romanian society’.
‘So it is natural that all those who may be interested – historians, people who want to decipher the meaning events – should also research such moments. It is not a problem’, Iliescu said.
ECHR’s response prompted the investigation
Last autumn, the ECHR Grand Chamber convicted Romania for being unable, for almost a quarter of a century, to find out who was guilty of the crimes committed on 13-15 June 1990.
According to the ECHR ruling, ‘all evidence in this case suggests the existence of the constitutive elements of a crime against humanity, committed by officials of the Romanian state, including members of the Government and high-rank military’.
Officially six deaths and 746 injuries, plus over 1,000 cases of illegal restraining by miners were reported. However, no one has so far been brought to justice.
The ECHR decision is final and binding, therefore Romania will have to continue investigations.
Miron Cozma: ‘It is time Ion Iliescu answered for the crimes he committed’
The leader of Jiu Valley miners during the June 1990 riots, Miron Cozma, said on Romania TV on Monday that ex-president Ion Iliescu had never been held accountable for the ‘crimes’ he had committed. ‘This is also the reason I went to ECHR, because Ion Iliescu has not been punished for either the crimes in the 1989 Revolution or those of 13 June 1990. In fact, he has not been held accountable for anything. It is time he answered for the crimes he committed together with Petre Roman, prime minister at the time, Virgil Magureanu and all the rest’, Miron Cozma said on Romania TV.
The former Jiu Valley trade union leader said, during a debate in February 2015, that he felt no remorse for the fact that people died in the 1990 miners’ riots, because he had been forced to come to Bucharest by other miners’ leaders. M Cozma also said that, in reality, he was Ion Iliescu’s opponent and that, when the president had thanked him publicly for their intervention in Bucharest, it was an action of manipulation meat to place the blame on him’.