Listen to this BosNewsLife News story via Vatican Radio:
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUCHAREST/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)-- A man who led one of Romania's most notorious prisons during the Communist-era, Alexander Visinescu, has been indicted for genocide. It is the first such charge since the 1989 revolution, which saw the execution of Romania's Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu.
Followed by an army of journalists, the visibly upset 88-year-old former prison commander Visinescu left the prosecutors-general office in Bucharest, where he was charged with genocide. He even tried to punch a reporter.
Vasinescu attempted to convince the crowd he wasn't to blame for wrongdoing saying "I just followed orders."
That's not how prosecutors view his case. They say the now elderly somewhat frail looking man was once the feared leader of the Ramnicu Sarat prison from 1956 through 1963.
Political prisoners reportedly died there after suffering beatings, hunger, cold and lack of medical care.
If convicted for genocide, he faces life imprisonment.
Authorities only charged Visinescu after the Romanian Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes listed him among 35 former communist officials accused of human rights abuses.
The Institute Executive President Andrei Muraru said "all political prisoners jailed by the Communist regime" in Ramnicu Sarat "were tortured physically and psychologically." He believes Visinescu "was criminally responsible for many deaths."
Yet Romanian media report that he still receives a state pension of nearly 1,000 dollars a month, more than four times the average pension in the impoverished European nation.
The procedure against Visinescu comes just days after an estimated 10,000 people participated in the beatification of Catholic priest Vladimir Ghika, who was tortured to death at a Romanian Communist prison for his faith at age 80 in 1954.
He was detained in 1952 and charged with "high treason" because he refused to recognize the schismatic church the anti-Christian Communist government was working to establish.
The religious gathering was also a reminder to many other church leaders and devoted Christians who were persecuted and even killed for their activities in Romania.
At the same time Romanian authorities have opened a museum this week in the military building where former Communist leader Ceausescu and his wife Elena were tried and executed for genocide during the country's 1989 revolution.
The museum is located in a military building where the trial and executions took place in Targoviste, a town 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Bucharest.
The quick trial and execution on Christmas Day remains controversial with some Western diplomats saying the full truth about the Ceausescu era may never be known in a nation where ex-Communist officials still maintain positions of power.
(BosNewsLife's NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key general news developments from especially, but not limited to, (former) Communist countries and other autocratic states impacting the Church and/or other compassionate professionals).
Help BosNewsLife to be the voice of the voiceless. Click here for a subscription.