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Romanian, 87, charged with genocide

BUCHAREST — Romanian prosecutors on Tuesday charged the commander of a Communist-era prison with genocide, the first Romanian to face the charge since leader Nicolae Ceausescu was tried and executed in 1989.

Alexandru Visinescu, 87, was arraigned before prosecutors. Between 1956 and 1963, he ran the Ramnicu Sarat prison, where the pre-Communist elite and intellectuals were incarcerated.

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Visinescu declined to comment as he was led to a taxi. He has said he was only following orders.

Prosecutors said in a statement that under his command prisoners were subjected to beatings, hunger, a lack of medical treatment, and exposure to cold. Visinescu could face life in prison if convicted.

The last Romanian to be charged with genocide was Ceausescu.

He was quickly tried by a special military tribunal and executed on Dec. 25, 1989, after he fled Bucharest in the face of growing antigovernment demonstrations.

In July, the institute investigating communist crimes wrote to prosecutors and called for Visinescu to be prosecuted for six deaths. It says it will give a total of 35 files about former commanders to prosecutors.

The institute said it ‘‘welcomed the historic decision’’ on the charges.

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