Romania and the Ursu case: nothing learned from the past?

Romania's Supreme Court has acquitted two former officers of the Securitate secret police accused of involvement in the murder of the regime critic Gheorghe Ursu in pre-trial detention in 1985. The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes (IICCMER) has reacted with consternation. Commentators also have little understanding for the verdict and the reasoning behind it.

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Contributors (RO) /

Terrifying continuity

The acquittal of the two former Securitate officers shows a lack of historical awareness, writes constitutional lawyer Ioan Stanomir in Contributors:

“The judges in 2023 are carrying forward the reasoning of the judges who were responsible for the legal murder of that time. ... The engineer Ursu has been sentenced a second time by the Romanian state. The continuity is terrible and disturbing. ... The Supreme Court ruling is a litmus paper: it reveals the complicity at work in the Romanian state. The acquittal of the torturers is the expression of a moral choice. Today's Romania has chosen between the victims and the perpetrators of communist repression, and stands in solidarity with the state that ruled illegitimately and criminally for half a century.”

Radio Europa Liberă (RO) /

Negligent ignorance at the very least

In their ruling the judges essentially state that in 1985 the Securitate was no longer systematically persecuting dissidents. Radio Europa Liberă is deeply shocked:

“Their reasoning shows that they have very little understanding of the communist system and the repressive means with which the Securitate and the regime kept the population in check. Control based on fear and the violation of all individual rights, which were nevertheless enshrined in law and the constitution. How can this be explained: ignorance, intent, internalisation of the propaganda of before and after the fall of communism? The judges could have learned about the crimes of communism from a great many sources.”