Romanian prosecutors have charged a communist-era prison commander, Alexander Visinescu, with genocide, the BBC reported.
It is the first such charge in Romania since the 1989 revolution which led to the Christmas Day executions of Communist Party leader and President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena.
Visinescu, 88, could face life in prison if found guilty. He was head of the Ramnicu Sarat prison in eastern Romania from 1956 until 1963.
Testimony from survivors shows that at the prison, detainees were denied food, medicine, and healthcare, subjected to unbearably cold conditions and beaten for minor infractions, according to the Romanian Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER).
Visinescu, a Bucharest has told prosecutors that he was only following orders.
Former political prisoners, quoted by the Romanian news agency Agerpres, described him as "a very cruel man."
According to the IICCMER, the prison regime at Ramnicu Sarat "can be considered as one of extermination, given the inhumane imprisonment conditions.”
About 500,000 Romanians — including priests, teachers, doctors and peasants, were jailed as political prisoners in the 1950s as the communist authorities imposed a totalitarian system. Historians have estimated that approximately 100,000 of those inmates died.
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