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News 25 Nov 15

Romania To Pay Damages Over 1989 Protests

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Romania in a case related to the protests in 1989 that brought down the communist regime.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest
The protests in 1989 brought down the communist regime. Photo: Wikicommons

Romania has been told to pay compensation to eight people of 2,400 euro each for the length of criminal proceedings in a case related to their ill-treatment in December 1989.

The European Court for Human Rights announced the ruling on Tuesday.

Between 21 and 23 December 1989, the applicants took part in anti-communist demonstrations in Bucharest, which led to the fall of the communist regime.

In 1990, the Bucharest Military Prosecutor’s Office opened a criminal investigation in to the case.

However, the investigation was still ongoing in 2012 when the applicants addressed the ECHR.

Prosecutors on October 14, almost 26 years after the events, closed the case on all charges, including war crimes, genocide, and manslaughter.

They said they would not prosecute anyone on the grounds that some of the people responsible for some of the crimes had already been convicted in other cases.

Some 709 people died and almost 2,200 were injured in December 1989, during the events that led to the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorial regime.

This is not the first ruling by the ECHR related to the 1989 Revolution in Romania. In April, it awarded Catalina Filip 15,000 euro in compensation for the lack of an effective investigation into the death of her husband.

Eight others who were either injured or lost relatives in December 1989 were awarded compensation of 8,000 euro each following a Court decision in March.

In January, the ECHR ruled that Romania should pay over 830,000 euro to 81 people.

In a related development, a Romanian court last month announced a criminal prosecution against former president Ion Iliescu for alleged crimes against humanity over the violent suppression of anti-government protests in 1990.

Iliescu was allegedly involved in the violent suppression of an opposition movement that organised protests in Bucharest for several weeks in mid-1990.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into the incidents in March, after the ECHR criticised Bucharest for failing to properly probe the violence.

In 2005 Iliescu was charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the protests but the charges were dropped in 2007.

In June 1990, thousands of coal miners and police in broke up an anti-government protest in Bucharest, beating up thousands of people.

Four people died and hundreds more were wounded, three of them with gunfire. Afterward, Iliescu thanked the miners for their actions.

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