Romanian prosecutors on Tuesday charged Communist-era prison commander Alexander Visinescu with genocide. Visinescu, the former chief of the Ramnicu Sarat prison under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu [Telegraph profile] faces genocide charges for beating and starving political prisoners [AFP report] between 1956 and 1963, the height of Communist repression against dissidents. Prosecutors said that Visinescu should be convicted of genocide because the harsh prison conditions he implemented led directly to the deaths of several prisoners. Visinescu faces life imprisonment if found guilty.
Around 500,000 Romanians were jailed as political prisoners [BBC report], and nearly 100,000 of them died in prison. The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes (IICCMER) [advocacy website] listed Visinescu as one of 35 former Communist officials who committed human rights abuses. On Tuesday IICCMER applauded the decision by the Romanian General Prosecutor's Office to charge Visinescu with genocide, declaring [press release] that the charges were a historic victory for the Romanian people. In July the IICCMER asked the prosecutor's office to charge Visinescu with first-degree murder [press release] for his treatment of prisoners.