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Romanian ex-communist prison chief dies in jail at 93

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Bucharest (AFP)

The former head of one of Romania's notorious communist-era prisons who was serving time for crimes against humanity, has died in prison at the age of 93, officials said Monday.

Alexandru Visinescu was serving a 20-year prison term after being found guilty of overseeing crimes at Ramnicu Sarat prison, dubbed "the prison of silence" where inmates suffered torture.

Visinescu died in Rahova prison hospital, in Bucharest, where he was under supervision for "chronic medical problems".

Visinescu ran the Ramnicu Sarat prison for political detainees in eastern Romania between 1956 and 1963.

Prosecutors said he oversaw an "extermination regime" and that at least at least 14 prisoners died during his tenure.

All prisoners were held in solitary confinement, denied the right to speak to anyone and many suffered beatings and enforced hunger.

"Inmates were dying after a slow but efficient process that involved physical and psychological torture," prosecutors argued.

Visinescu had expressed no regret for his actions, arguing that he was only obeying orders from his superiors and had upheld the law.

In September this year, another former head of a communist-era prison camp, Ion Ficior, died in prison at the age of 90.

Like Visinescu, he was also serving a 20-year jail sentence for crimes against humanity.

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

The most severe crackdowns took place in the 1950s.

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