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The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile

The human remains identified at Periprava confirm the existence of a mass grave / IICCMER publishes the report of the field investigation at the former labor colony

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Bucharest, October 1st, 2013 – The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) publishes on www.iiccmer.ro the archaeological report regarding the field investigations conducted at the former labor colony in Periprava. The archaeological diagnosis confirms the existence of a mass grave with human remains belonging to victims from the labor camp.

Following investigations undertaken at Periprava in September 2013, the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile has identified a burial place of the detainees deceased during 1958-1963 at the Periprava labor colony. The burial place is situated on the premises of the current cemetery of the locality, in an area without any graves of the members of the Russian Lipovan local community.  Archaeological diggings covered a range of about 700 square meters, revealing the human remains of individuals buried using different methods during various periods.

The report regarding the archaeological diagnosis undertaken at Periprava cemetery (C.A. Rosetti locality, Tulcea County) contains detailed information on the burial place of the prisoners from the labor colony and on the way these burials were made. As shown in the report, the funeral practice breaks the traditional patterns. For instance, one of the skeletons has its legs crossed and tied, probably with a piece of wire, while the unnatural position of the head, bent towards one side, together with the dislocated cervical vertebra, reflect a forced insertion of the body. In other cases, the departed is placed in a box made out of perishable wooden material and another one was probably wrapped in a sort of mat made out of organic fabric. In another case there was a clear negligence towards the manipulation of the body on its introduction in the grave. For example, one of the borders of the wooden frame overlapped the skull, which was half on the outside.  An interesting anatomical particularity was observed on another victim: the right hand was bent, with the palm placed under the chin, while the right foot was missing.

All these observations are completed with the lack of any piece of funeral inventory, clothing or shoes, which shows once more a deviation from the traditional burial ritual.

The campaign of archaeological investigation was coordinated by Dan Mihai Țălnaru, General Director of IICCMER. The team included archaeologists Constantin Băjenaru and Dan Vasilescu and IICCMER researcher Constantin Vasilescu.

“The results of the archaeological investigation confirm the existence of a mass grave and all the material evidence analyzed by archaeologists show that the human remains belong to former prisoners from the Periprava labor colony. The data included in the report support our theories and reflect the brutality and primitivism of the labor camp administration. During the next period, we will analyze all the evidence and extend the investigations. In this case, it is important to also have anthropological and DNA analyses in order to establish the identities of those buried at Periprava. IICCMER will send all these information to the Public Prosecutor’s Office”, said Andrei Muraru, Executive President of IICCMER.

On September 18th, 2013, the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile asked the General Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice to initiate the criminal proceedings against former commander of the Periprava labor camp, colonel (r) Ioan Ficior (85 years old), for committing the crime of genocide. On that same day, the Public Ministry announced that it had registered the denunciation made by the Institute. IICCMER informed that its investigations proved that Ioan Ficior enforced and maintained an extermination regime for the political prisoners detained at Periprava, while he was occupying leading positions within this labor camp during 1958-1963. Based on the evidence, the Institute concludes that, during 1958-1963, Ioan Ficior is directly guiltyfor the death of at least 103 political prisoners, as a consequence of the rough detention regime which included starvation, physical violence, mental pressure, medical care deprivation, lousy conditions in the barracks, harsh work conditions, disciplinary penalties applied on a discretionary basis and disproportional in comparison with the gravity of the deviations etc.

In April 2013, IICCMER announced that it had identified various deeds with possible criminal implications committed by 35 employees of the General Direction of Penitentiaries during 1950-1964. The investigated persons are 81 to 99 years old and live on Romanian territory. At the same time, IICCMER had entered into possession of the identification data, names and exact addresses of the mentioned persons.

On the 30th of July, IICCMER asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to initiate criminal proceedings against former commander of Râmnicu Sărat prison for committing first degree murder. On September 3rd, 2013, the Public Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice put Alexandru Vișinescu under the accusation of genocide, as during 1956-1963, while he was commander of Râmnicu Sărat prison, he subjected the collectivity made out of the political prisoners incarcerated at Râmnicu Sărat to living conditions or treatments meant to destroy them physically, through illegal measures.

According to its legal framework, the Institute is authorized to carry out scientific investigations regarding the crimes, abuses and human rights infringement during the whole communist regime and to alert the competent authorities. During 2010-2012, these attributions had been suppressed by the Executive, but in July 2012 the Government reinstated the right for the Institute to carry out investigations and notify the authorities.

For further information, please contact us; person to contact: Adriana Niculescu e-mail: adrianna.niculescu@gmail.com, tel. +40 21 316 7565.

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About IICCMER
The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) is a governmental body which studies, documents and supports public awareness of the history of communism in Romania, through research, education, publishing and museum projects. IICCMER analyzes the nature, purpose and effects of totalitarianism in Romania during 1945-1989, but also the memory of the Romanian exile.

The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) coordinates several unique project in recent history, such as archaeological campaigns for discovering the remains of the victims executed without trial by the Securitate, Râmnicu Sărat Memorial – a former prison for political prisoners, the International Summer University on the study of Romanian communism, the first textbook on the history of Romanian communism, photo collections – the largest free online database with photos from communism, the MA program in the study Romanian communism, the Romanian exile archives, media projects of documentary films etc.

In time, IICCMER became a prestigious research center in Europe, through which Romania explores and acknowledges the communist past, clarifies its role in the twentieth-century European history and promotes democratic values within the modern society.

For further details regarding the IICCMER activity, please go to www.iiccmer.ro or access our Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/InstitutuldeInvestigareaCrimelorComunismului.