The Gheorghe Ursu Case - Chronology
The dissident engineer and poet Gheorghe Ursu was arrested, tortured and assassinated by the political police (Securitate) of the Ceausescu regime on November 17, 1985, in the Rahova prison, Bucharest.
Gheorghe Ursu had been followed by Securitate since the early 70s when he was sending letters to Radio Free Europe, denouncing the criminal policies and personality cult of the dictator. In December 1984, the Securitate confiscated his personal diaries in which he was recording in detail the absurdities and failures of the Romanian national-communism. He was interrogated and threatened almost daily in order to disclose the way in which he sent his letters to RFE and his contacts with other dissidents inside and outside the country. Refusing to cooperate with Securitate he was arrested on Sept. 21st 1985. Although the State Dept., a number of US Senators and Amnesty International asked the Romanian authorities about Gheorghe Ursu's situation in Oct 1985, he continued to be detained interrogated tortured and finally killed. The Ursu Case became soon very well known - the US Congress considered it when it withdrew in 1987 the Most favored nation' clause from Ceausescu's Romania considering it one of the most obvious cases of human rights violation. The Western media and major human rights organizations, among which Human Rights Watch, requested an investigation of Gheorghe Ursu's death circumstances.
After the 1989 revolution, the investigation led by Prosecutor Dan Voinea showed that "guilty of Gheorghe Ursu's death are the investigating officers Col. Tudor Stanica ex-Head of the Penal Investigations Directorate of the Militia (Police), Maj. Marin Parvulescu and Col. Mihail Creanga, ex-deputy head of the Militia penitentiary; and Col. Vasile Gheorghe.
The Romanian authorities however have since constantly tried to bury the case. The ex-torturers have become prosperous bankers and well connected businessmen involved in notorious fraudulent deals. Such as the bankruptcy of Credit Bank and Romanian Popular Bank, having at the same time strong ties within the Police, Justice and government. The Romanian media has presented during all these years the injustice done to the memory of Gheorghe Ursu, who stands as a symbol of Ceausescu dictatorship's crimes and of the subjection of the new Romanian authorities to the interests of the ex-political police/Securitate.
In 1996 following an intensive media campaign, and the attention shown by a number of European organizations such as the Commission for Romania of the European Parliament in November 2000 the Ministry of Justice allows at long last the same prosecutor Dan Voinea to send to trial two of the assassins, TS and MC. The investigation on Vasile Gheorghe continues.
For 3 years until May 2003 the judges of Bucharest Military Tribunal delayed the verdict, trying numerous times to dismiss the case, or tamper with witness accounts . Nevertheless, the evidence keeps mounting, rendering the guilt of the two criminals even more obvious.
On May 14, 2003 the military Judge Parvu Liviu removes himself from the case without any valid legal reason. The trial is passed on to the Bucharest Appellate Court where on July 14, 2003 an honest judge Viorel Podar sentences the two indicted officers to 11 years in prison for the complicity to murder is the very first time that the post-December 1989 Romanian Justice punishes a political crime committed under the communist regime. And this extraordinary event was extensively publicized and hailed by the Romanian and International media.
The Romanian Authorities however offer now the convicted criminals a helping hand. Although the judge Viorel Podar signed a warrant for the arrest of the two four weeks ago this was not yet fulfilled: the Rumanian police claims it can not find them although they have been seen by eyewitness and the newspapers reported on these facts. Moreover, recently even Romania's General Prosecutor's office, headed by the General Prosecutor Joita Tanase, the institution in charge with the prosecution of criminals, appealed to the Supreme Court in favor of the two convicted criminals to alleviate their situation or, as some newspapers put it, "threw them a lifesaver".
This absurd intervention is consistent though with the general situation of the Romanian justice system in which:
- the General Prosecutor Joita Tanase has also intervened to annul sentences given to notorious criminals like the generals Stanculescu and Chitac
- two other prosecutors, Alexandru Tuculeanu si Ilie Piciorus, who participated in Gheorghe Ursu's 1985 arrest and imprisonment are currently influential bosses in the General Prosecutor's office and members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary
- a former Securitate officer, friend of Tudor Stanica's, is currently head of a department of the Romanian Secret Services, while his wife is a judge of the Supreme Court
- a former torturer of the communist Militia, and subordinate of Tudor Stanica's, himself involved in the Ursu Case, is currently head of the Criminal Records Department of the Romanian Police
- numerous ex Securitate officers are currently in key positions in the Ministry of Justice or are judges in the Bucharest Military Tribunal (TMTB). Among them, TMTB judges Horatiu Filimon and Florin Surghie participated directly in the cover-up of the Ursu case.In October 2013 the Romanian Supreme Court finally convicts the two former Miitia officers Stanica and Creanga for murder, to ten years in prison, having benefitted from an amnesty by Ceausescu himself, the dictator at whose bequest the murders were committed.
Stanica would be set free for ill health based on suspicious medical documents after less than a year.
Creangs would be set free for good behaviour after five years.
The file against Pirvulescu, Gheorghe Ursu's main investigator and torturer, the man who according to overwhelming evidence was the may killer, languished at the Military Prosecutor's Office for over 11 years. Gheorghe Ursu's family made numerous inquiries and additional formal complaints with prosecutors and courts over the years, to no avail. Chief Military Prosecutor Ion Vasilache has systematically rejected all complaints for illegal reasons, siding with the former Securitate torturer. Among his pretexts: that others have been convicted (ignoring the law covering the crime co-authors) or that statute of limitations applied (ignoring the fact that political torture and murder, as a crime against humanity sanctioned by the UN Charter on human rights, and both the international and Romanian laws, have no statute of limitations.
Yet the evidence have been available all these years in the files of previous trials. It is now also available to Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu, whose team, after Andrei Ursu's 13 days of hunger strike, is apparently finally examining the file.