Single title

"Criminal Transitional Justice – From Nurnberg to the Romanian Post-Communism"

The Rule of Law Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung together with the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania are proud to announce the launching of the publication “Transitional Justice. From Nuremberg to the Romanian Post-Communism”, written by Raluca Grosescu and Raluca Ursachi.

The book analyses the trials against former communist officials for crimes and abuses committed during the Communist regime, trying to answer the following questions:

-to what extent these trials have clarified who (individual or institution) is responsible for political repression

-to what extent the victims have been rehabilitated

-have these trials enforced the respect for law in the Romanian society? Etc.

The book explains the legal constraints when it comes to convicting crimes committed during the 1989 event or before that. The issues of retroactive application of the law, the difficulty of corroborating evidence and establishing guilt, statute of limitations, the lack of strict legal provision regarding crimes against humanity within the Romanian Criminal Code are all dealt with through concrete examples of cases.

The second explanation, apart from the legal/criminal one, is political. The intensity of the efforts to convict perpetrators of the communist regime was dependent upon the political force in power. The so-called successor party of the communist party was as expected more reluctant to give green light to the condemnation of communist crimes. On the other hand, only in 1996, when the historic-democratic parties came to power, a clear sign was given to move forward with the dismantling of the former communist nomenclature. In the same way, the anti-communist stance was used by political parties in different ways to legitimate their actions, doctrine etc and gain votes.

The authors show in their conclusions that the small number of trials, as well as the type of crimes they dealt with, played a limited role in establishing a transitional justice. The conviction of a few police officers, generals or former ministers (whose old age actually got them off the punishment) for concrete cases of abuse (e.g. killing or beating up prisoners) did not achieve the task of condemning the regime itself as a criminal regime. Talking about figures, there were only 4 cases of prosecution against former communist officials for acts committed during the communist rule. All the other were referring to the uprise in 1989. The focus of these trials was more on the facts themselves, rather than the political context – the abusive communist regime.

The victims of the communist regime were not only not rehabilitated, but actually ignored in this transitional justice process. Only in trials conducted in Timisoara and Cluj were the victims cited in court as witnesses and then declared themselves satisfied with the outcome.

All in all, the trials of communist perpetrators did not manage to portray the amplitude of and cast a negative light on the crimes of the communist regime.