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Romania court affirms sentence of soviet-era prison commander

[JURIST] The High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania on Wednesday upheld [materials] the 20-year sentence of Soviet-era prison commander Alexandru Visinescu for crimes against humanity. Visinescu was head of the Romanian prison Râmnicu Sărat for seven years, beginning in 1956, over the course of which approximately 14 political prisoners died. The suit was initially brought [press release] by the Institute for Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile in 2013. The conviction is a land mark case for Romania, a country that has struggled with prosecuting communist crimes.

Romania has been found one of the most corrupt nations in the EU, ranking [TI profile] 69 out of the 177 nations globally according the watchdog group Transparency International [advocacy website]. In April a Romanian court sentenced [JURIST report] former Senior Judge Stan Mustata to 10 years and eight months in prison for granting favorable verdicts to defendants in exchange for money. In January 2014 the European Commission released [JURIST report] its semi-annual Cooperation and Verification Mechanism report on Romania, warning the nation to end political pressure on the judiciary amid continuing concerns over corruption. In September 2013 Romanian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] Visinescu with genocide. Visinescu, the former chief of the Ramnicu Sarat prison under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu [Telegraph profile] faced genocide charges for beating and starving political prisoners between 1956 and 1963, the height of Communist repression against dissidents. In January 2013 the Bucharest Appeals Court ruled [JURIST report] that a former Romanian defense ministry official can be extradited to the US on charges of trying to illegally export military equipment to Iran.

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