Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu on Thursday asked the President of the country, Klaus Iohannis, to start procedures for making the request for the prosecution of ex-PM Petre Roman and Victor Atanasie Stanculescu and Gelu Voican Voiculescu, for the commission of crimes against humanity in the case of the miners’ riot on 13 – 15 June 1990.
‘Whilst the offences that are the object of this case had been committed prior to the entry into effect of Law no. 115/1999 on ministerial liability, an act that sets the procedure to follow for holding ministers liable (norms of procedure of strict and immediate enforcement), the procedure of notifying the President of Romania to ask for the prosecution of a member of the Government is also applicable to this particular case’, reads a Public Ministry release.
Ion Iliescu, Virgil Magureanu and Victor Stanculescu were interviewed by the investigators at the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court on Wednesday, in the case of the miners’ riot that was reopened in March this year. The ex-president and the ex-SRI head were indicted for crimes against humanity, according to judicial sources. The investigators need the approval of the president of the country in order to be able to prosecute Stanculescu.
On Thursday, Emil Cico Dumitrescu and Cazimir Ionescu were indicted in the same case for crimes against humanity.
The formal report resented by the authorities says six persons lost their lives in the violent events of June 1990, four of whom being shot. The various associations of the victims of the miners’ riots on the other hand claim that over 100 people were killed in Bucharest those days.
Miron Cozma indicted
The former leader of the Jiu Valley miners, Miron Cozma, was indicted in the miners’ riot case by the High Court prosecutors on Thursday.
‘For the time being, the crime (I was charged with – editor’s note) is the common one, under Section 439, like all the rest. However, under letter g I under stand it’s about bodily harm and such invented things. (…) These are not crimes against humanity’, Miron Cozma said as he left the prosecutor’s office on Thursday.
He claimed that the defendants in the case were ‘the Army, the Interior Ministry and the intelligence services’,
He said the miners had come to Bucharest led by the authorities. ‘If they came, they came led by the authorities starting with Ion Iliescu, Petre Roman, Gelu Voican Voiculescu and intelligence colonels who, in June 1990, were there, and, of course, Deputy Minister Burlec from Aninoasa Mine, Nicolae Camarasescu, the Securitate officer’, Cozma said.
Cozma said he was innocent and that he had been forced to come on the last train transporting miners to Bucharest.
Gelu Voican Voiculescu: ‘Act of political revenge’
Gelu Voican Voiculescu on Thursday commented on the fact that the Prosecutor General had asked President Klaus Iohannis to start procedures for making the request for the prosecution of himself, Petre Roman and Victor Atanasie Stanculescu in the miners’ riot case.
‘The case had been reopened before. Many cases were adjudicated immediately in 1990. All the cases concerning the four people who were killed and wounded by shooting were dealt with by General Dan Voinea back then. Cases were prepared that took their normal course. In 2007, the case was reopened and it ended with a non-prosecution decision. Now, they wrongly claim it is an ECHR initiative. The Romanian authorities, after this ECHR ruling, said the case should be re-opened. It was reopened when Laura Codruta Kovesi was the Prosecutor General. Ex-President Traian Basescu blamed the former prosecutor general for not making any progress with reopening the case. It’s an act of political revenge for the 2012 impeachment’, said Gelu Voican Voiculescu.
He also said he miners came on their own free will and that the charges of crimes against humanity were exaggerated.
PNL on the miners’ riot case: ‘A new world can be born’
The investigation in the miners’ riot case is a victory of the victims of those events or of their families, but also a historic moment when a new world can be born and a signal that the Romanian society can deal with
In a press statement, Predoiu says the investigation is, at least at the current stage, first of all a victory of the victims or families of the victims ‘who have fought in European courts’, but also a victory of the European Court of Human Rights.
‘If it hadn’t been for the European Court of Human Rights, perhaps we wouldn’t have had this debate today. The effort of the prosecutors who are reopening this investigation is equally laudable. Of course that we are far fro a final court verdict, but it is an extremely strong signal, it’s a signal that we, as justice system, as society, are able to deal with these difficult themes and discover the truth’, Predoiu said, according to Agerpres.
‘It is a moment when a new world can be born’, added the Liberal leader.
PNL’s Honorary President Mircea Ionescu Quintus also believes that it is not too late for the truth and responsibilities to be determined in the case of the miners’ riot of June 1990.
‘Those were especially dramatic and grievous circumstances, with many victims, with a lot of grief, and if it is determined that persons or institutions are responsible for such serious consequences, they will have to answer for what they did regardless of political parties they are members of or their whereabouts’, Mircea Quintus said on rfi.ro.
Iliescu, Magureanu, Stanculescu and Diamandescu, among those targeted by initial investigations
Ion Iliescu, Virgil Magureanu, Athanasie Stanculescu, Emil Cico Dumitrescu and Corneliu Diamandescu are among those targeted by the initial investigations into the miners’ riots that took place in June 1990. A resolution not to commence prosecution against them was adopted in June 2009 and dismissed in 2015.
The miners’ riots that took place on June 13-15, 1990, were investigated in 1997 by military and civilian prosecutors, hundreds of persons being heard as witnesses and dozens others indicted, several officials being among them. The cases were closed following the decision not to commence prosecution, a decision based on the statute of limitations.
At first, former President Ion Iliescu, Admiral (ret.) Emil Cico Dumitrescu, Dan Iosif, Gelu Voican Voiculescu, former Interior Minister Mihai Chitac (deceased – editor’s note), Victor Athanasie Stanculescu, former Head of Police Corneliu Diamandescu, former Interior Ministry Secretary of State Dumitru Penciuc, former defence advisor and former Head of the General Staff Vasile Ionel, Miron Cozma, former Premier Petre Roman and former Director of the Protection and Guard Service (SPP) Dumitru Iliescu came to the military prosecutors’ attention in the Miners’ Riots case.
At first, the crimes investigated were the undermining of state authority and of national economy, illegal detention and crimes against humanity.
Through the resolution adopted on June 17, 2009, the Supreme Court’s Prosecutor’s Office decided not to commence prosecution in the case of former President Ion Iliescu, former Director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Virgil Magureanu, former Interior Minister Mihai Chitac, former Defence Minister Victor Athanasie Stanculescu and four other former officials. Back then, the prosecutors noted the statute of limitations and decided not to pursue the prosecution, Mediafax informs.
The decision not to commence prosecution in Ion Iliescu’s case was taken in the case opened on 9 June 2005 against him for war propaganda, genocide through alternative methods such as the killing of members of the community or of the group; serious bodily or mental harm done to the community or group; subjecting the community or the group to living conditions or treatments liable to causing physical destruction, inhumane treatments through illegal detention, acts of destruction and damage through fire, explosions or other similar means which result in public danger, favouring the criminal, being an accessory to ill treatments, being an accessory to torture, undermining state authority, diversionary acts and spreading false information, the resolution read.
The 2009 resolution also shows that on 18 February 1997 the High Court’s Prosecutor’s Office’s Criminal Investigation Section registered case file 315/P/1997 concerning the complaint filed by the Association of the Victims of the 1990-1991 Miners’ Riots (AVM) against several persons: Miron Cozma, Nicolae Camarasescu, Ion Iliescu, Petre Roman, Gelu Voican Voiculescu, Corneliu Diamandescu, Mihai Chitac, Traian Basescu and former Attorney General Ioan Gheorghe Robu. AVM accused them of “organizing, instigating and transporting the miners from the country’s main mining centres to Bucharest, and of the acts of barbarity the miners perpetrated by using various deadly tools (hatchets, axes, iron bars, pickaxes, chains, electric cables), the destruction of educational establishments, laboratories etc.” AVM also claimed that the miners “kidnapped, abused, maimed, raped and killed.”
“We point out that neither the resolution nor any other court or procedural document spells out the crimes Ion Iliescu is accused of, they only point out the relevant legal text concerning them. Although he was informed of the accusations brought against him on 24 May 2006 (almost a year after the criminal prosecution started), defendant Ion Iliescu was heard only once, but as a witness, on 10 May 1999. It has to be pointed out that at the moment the criminal prosecution started, namely 9 June 2005, Articles 121 and 122 Paragraph 1 of the Penal Code, concerning the crimes stipulated by Articles 266 and 217 Paragraph 4 of the Penal Code, had already come into force, the crimes falling under the statute of limitations,” prosecutors pointed out in their resolution on not commencing the criminal prosecution.
On 5 February 2015, Attorney General Tiberiu Nitu ordered the cancellation of three such resolutions dating back from 2009 and concerning the Miners’ Riots of 1990, as well as the reopening of the criminal prosecution in this case.
The Miners’ Riots case seeks to clarify the circumstances in which the events of June 13-15, 1990, started and took place, the contribution and role played by 27 civilians, including Ion Iliescu and Virgil Magureanu, and by 7 army men, including Mihai Chitac and Corneliu Diamandescu.
Military prosecutors established that approximately 1,300 persons “were injured” and around 100 were killed in the events.
On 17 September 2014 Romania was forced to continue its investigations into the Miners’ Riots case following a decision adopted by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR emphasized at that moment the Romanian state’s obligation to do justice to the victims of crimes against humanity irrespective of the period of time that elapsed since the crimes were committed.
The ECHR noted that Romania violated Articles 2, 3 and 6 of the European Human Rights Convention after plaintiffs Anca Mocanu, Marin Stoica and the ’21 December 1989’ Association complained of the inefficiency of internal investigations into the June 13-15 events.
The events of June 1990 started when riot police was ordered to clear out University Square, which had been occupied for a month and a half by thousands of people protesting against the policies of the government that came to power following the December 1989 revolution.