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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 20:18 GMT
Romania miners chief jailed again
Police re-arrest Miron Cozma
Cozma's pardoning was almost unanimously condemned
Outgoing Romanian President Ion Illiescu has bowed to public pressure and cancelled a pardon he granted to jailed miners' leader Miron Cozma.

Cozma was sentenced five years ago to 18 years in jail for leading a deadly miners' rampage in 1991 in Bucharest.

He was arrested on Friday - a day after being freed - following a wave of outrage at home and abroad.

The pardon was one of Mr Illiescu's last acts before he hands over office to Traian Basescu on Monday.

Cozma, 49, led thousand of miners to Bucharest to confront anti-communist protesters on two occasions in the 1990s.

Government buildings, newspaper offices and students were attacked and nine people were killed.

The action led the reformist government to collapse, rocking the young foundations of Romanian democracy less than two years after the revolution.

Mr Illiescu, who has been in office for all but four of the 15 years since the era of Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, denies inviting Cozma and his miners to counter demonstrations against his rule.

The president's office said the decision to pardon Cozma had been for humanitarian reasons.

But Cozma's release was widely seen as Mr Illiescu helping out an old friend.

In political fallout over the scandal, Mr Basescu refused to travel with the president in his official jet to the European Union summit in Brussels to protest against the pardoning.

The EU as well as the US embassy in Bucharest also issued statements of concern over Cozma's release.

Romanian miners' leader seized
17 Feb 99 |  Europe
Country profile: Romania
12 Dec 04 |  Country profiles

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