Military Prosecutor’s Office closes 1989 Romanian Revolution case

The Military Prosecution Department of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Justice and Cassation, Romania’s top court has closed the case regarding the Romanian 1989 Revolution which resulted in the death, injury and deprivation of liberty of several individuals, as well as destruction of property.

According to a statement by the General Prosecutor’s Office the offenses committed in the context of the 1989 events were initially the subject of 4,544 criminal cases: in 1,244 cases the investigation was carried out by the Military Prosecution Office attached to the Bucharest Military Tribunal; in 17 cases – by the Military Prosecution Office attached to the Iasi Military Tribunal ; in 317 cases – by the Military Prosecution Office attached to the Timisoara Military Tribunal; in 233 cases – by the Military Prosecution Office attached to the Military Court of Appeal; in 2,564 cases – by the Military Prosecution Department of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Justice and Cassation.

During investigations, in 2,172 cases it was ruled that the cases should be joined, according to the areas where the events took place.

Also, in other 32 cases it was decided that settlement jurisdiction should be declined in favor of civil courts.

The General Prosecutor’s Office also states that according to the material jurisdiction, namely the complexity of the cases, part of the cases investigated by the military prosecution offices with the military tribunals of Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj and Timisoara, were declined in favor of military prosecution offices of a higher order, namely they were taken over by the latter, chiefly by the Military Prosecution Department.

In 112 cases, the Military Prosecution Department and the other military prosecution offices ordered the prosecution of 275 defendants, namely: 25 generals, (10 with the Ministry of National Defense – MApN and 15 with the Ministry of Internal Affairs- MAI); 114 officers (32 with MApN and 82 with MAI); 13 non-commissioned officers (8 with MApN and 5 with MAI); 36 soldiers and 87 civilians.

In other cases, after the existence of certain causes that impeded criminal action was ascertained, it was ruled that there shouldn’t be any prosecution.

Since the December 1989 events display different peculiarities, the analysis of the investigation material was carried in a distinct way, namely with reference to the December 16-22 period and the period starting on December 22, when the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu effectively lost power.

Until December 22 there were violent repression acts against anti-communist and anti-dictatorial demonstrations in Timisoara, Cluj-Napoca and Bucharest and there have been attempts to prevent the protests from spreading to other cities. The prosecutors noted that “individuals with decision-making and executive, political and military positions, on a central and local level, involved between December 16-22, 1989 in organizing, leading and executing the repression measures against protesters were tried and sentenced, establishing the existence the case of res judicata.”

The period December 22- 31, 1989 was characterized by a power void, a state of confusion, panic and chaos. “Given that the general euphoria caused by the victory in the revolution was followed shortly by a state of fear regarding the possibility that Nicolae Ceausescu might be reinstated, with help from loyal forces, there hasn’t been any action by state organs against demonstrators, but a common action directed, according to the perception created, against certain counter-revolutionary elements acting against the will of the entire population. Against this background, given the lack of cooperation and coordination, the initiatives by several military and civilians to enter several buildings or to check the roofs of certain buildings, without informing the other forces present in the area triggered confusion and misrepresentations, and consequently fire was opened on target causing many victims,” the prosecutors noted.

A total of 1855 people were wounded by gunshots, namely 420 officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers; 343 people were wounded in other circumstances.

An October 14, 2015 ordinance of the Military Tribunal ruled that the cause relating to the crimes murder, attempted murder and incitement to murder, manslaughter, battery or other violent acts and incitement to such offenses, unlawful deprivation of liberty and inciting to this offense, theft and destruction, assault, abusive behavior, etc should be closed. The arguments include, on a case to case basis, procedural impediments, the expiry of the time limit for criminal liability, the existence of res judicata, the lack of provisions in the criminal law or amnesty.

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