BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The son of a dissident killed in jail during Romania's communist era has ended a hunger strike after 17 days, but said Friday his protest shows that even 25 years after communism ended, it's a struggle to bring former apparatchiks to justice.
Andrei Ursu said he called off the hunger strike Thursday afternoon after prosecutors told him they would reopen an investigation into the death of Gheorghe Ursu, who was killed in prison in 1985 on the orders of the former Securitate secret police, beaten by interrogators and fellow inmates.
Romania has been slow to prosecute those who allegedly committed abuses under ex-leader Nicolae Ceausescu because many officials retained their jobs after 1990, critics say.
It recently began to prosecute officials from the early days of communism. This week, ex-prison commander Alexandru Visinescu appeared in court charged with being responsible for the torture and deaths of 12 prisoners at the prison he ran from 1956 to 1963. He says he was simply following orders.
Ursu, a Romanian-born U.S. citizen who was given political asylum after his father's death, said Friday he would stage another hunger strike if the case wasn't solved.
"My protest is for all those who suffered torture (and) abuse, were illegally followed or lost their jobs," he said.
He sat under signs reading "Justice for Gheorghe Ursu" and drank from a big bottle of water during a news conference. He said he lost 11 kilograms (22 pounds) and drank eight liters (16 pints) of water a day during the hunger strike — details confirmed by his doctor.
Ursu also said former Securitate officers shouldn't be tried by military courts as they currently are.
"They were civilians terrorizing the civilian population," he said.