Wednesday 28 July 2010

Ceausescu remains exhumed

by Kathryn Hadley,

Last Wednesday, July 21st, forensic scientists in Romania exhumed what are believed to be the remains of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena. Samples were taken from the couple’s grave following doubts that they were really buried in the Ghencea military cemetery in west Bucharest.

The couple’s late daughter Zoia Ceausescu had sued the defence ministry in 2005 saying she had doubts that her parents were buried in the cemetery. When she died in 2006 her brother Valentin, the Ceausescu’s only surviving son, and her husband Mircea Oprean pursued the case.

Nicolae Ceausescu (1918-89) became General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party in 1965; however his government was overthrown during the anti-communist revolution in December 1989. Ceausescu and his wife were executed on December 25th, 1989. They were incidentally the last people to be executed in Romania before the abolition of capital punishment on January 7th, 1990.

According to official reports the DNA tests could take up to six months.

The exhumation is symptomatic of Romania’s struggle to come to terms with its communist past. In Coming to Terms with the Past: Romania Markus Bauer hopes that Romania’s new membership of the European Union will enable it to face down the ghosts of its troubled twentieth-century past.

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