Ex-head of Romania communist work camp jailed for 20 years


Bucharest (AFP)

An 88-year-old Romanian communist-era labour camp commander was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for crimes against humanity committed over half a century ago.

Ioan Ficior, head of the Periprava camp in southeast Romania between 1958 and 1963, was accused of crimes against humanity for subjecting prisoners to "inhuman treatment".

At least 103 prisoners died at the camp, considered one of the country's worst, while he was in command.

Prosecutors had called for a sentence of 25 years.

Ficior has always maintained that he was merely carrying out his military duty and that he did his best to provide prisoners with food and medicine.

His lawyer Simona Chitea has suggested that he may appeal the sentence. He was not present during the hearing.

In September 2013, the Romanian body investigating communist-era crimes called on prosecutors to bring charges against Ficior as part of a wider campaign to bring 35 former camp commanders to justice -- more than 20 years after the fall of communism in 1989.

Ficior is the second former camp commander to be jailed for crimes against humanity. Last year, Alexandru Visinescu was given a 20-year term for the same offence.

Visinescu was accused of running an "extermination regime" at the Ramnicu Sarat prison which he ran from 1956 to 1963.

At least 14 people died during his tenure.

More than 600,000 people were jailed in Romania for political reasons between 1945 and 1989, according to the Sighet Memorial for the victims of communism.

The most severe crackdowns took place in the 1950s.