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April 16, 2021

First communist prisons torturer sentenced in Romania

Alexandru Visinescu, a former warden of the Ramnicu Sarat penitentiary, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday for crimes against humanity in connection with the abuse inflicted on political prisoners, in a final decision taken by the High Court of Cassation and Justice (Romania’s Supreme Court).

The high court rejected all appeals filed in the case, including the defendant’s.

On 24 July 2015, the Bucharest Court of Appeals sentenced Alexandru Visinescu to 20 years in prison, military degradation, and payment of damages to three members of his victims’ families; the Public Finances Ministry, the Internal Affairs Ministry and the National Administration of Penitentiaries were held to jointly pay damages worth 300,000 Euros.

Prosecutors proved that Visinescu, in his capacity as prison warden from 1956 to 1963, systematically abused inmates, by denying them medical care, hospitalization and heating, by imposing starvation and random punishment, beating them and ignoring their petitions, with the intention to physically exterminate them.

“The detention regime imposed did not assure in any way minimum long-term survival, considering that most of the time the sentences were longer than 10 years. Inmate deaths thus occurred following a slow, yet efficient process through which they were physically and mentally tortured,” the prosecutors said according to Agerpres.

138 detainees held at the Ramnicu Sarat Penitentiary during Visinescu’s tenure have been identified to date.

Andrei Muraru: “Historic day!”

Presidential advisor Andrei Muraru had a first reaction following the final and irrevocable sentence reached in the Visinescu Case:

“It is undoubtedly a historic decision. From now on, Visinescu is the first torturer from the communist prisons in Romania sentenced for his crimes for good. It is the first act of justice done to the victims. With the exception of one, all inmates that passed through Ramnicu Sarat have died. Of those released, survivors of Ramnicu Sarat, many would have wanted justice. Not necessarily for the suffering they went through, but especially for the inmates that were tormented and lost their lives at Ramnicu Sarat. Likewise, today’s decision is extremely important because the judiciary thus recognizes the institutional responsibility of some power structures of the communist state in the policy of exterminating political opponents. Likewise, the decision produces a significant symbolical gulf between the condition of the 1990s Judiciary, which refused to investigate such deeds, and today’s Judiciary. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s decision finally puts an end to the polemic over the issue of whether communist crimes have expired under the statute of limitations. From this moment on, any crime committed on political grounds during the communist era can be investigated and censured. Today, Visinescu probably becomes the oldest convict, which is a terrible twist of fate. A former torturer from communist prisons becomes, 26 years after the fall of communism, the oldest convict in the penitentiary system of today’s Romania.”

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