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Friday, July 16, 1999 Published at 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK

World: Europe

Romanian generals sentenced for killing protesters

The revolution brought an end to Communism in Romania

Two retired Romanian army generals have been given long prison terms for their role in killing unarmed protestors during the 1989 popular uprising which overthrew communist rule.

BBC Central Europe Reporter Nick Thorpe: "The Romanian Government is determined to uncover the truth about the revolution"
Victor Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac were also stripped of their military rank by the Supreme Court and ordered to pay $31,000 compensation to relatives of the dead.

One of the defendants has already said he will appeal against the sentence.

The two men were given 15 years in prison for their role in killing 72 people.

The court heard that in December 1989 the men were dispatched to Timisoara, 400km northwest of the capital Bucharest, to stop a popular revolt.

[ image: Nicolae Ceausescu was put on trial]
Nicolae Ceausescu was put on trial
The protests had started on 16 December, when the authorities tried to forcibly evict Hungarian Reformed pastor Laszlo Toekes from his home.

A few days later, as the uprising spread, former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed.

At the time, Mr Stanculescu was deputy defence minister and close to the Ceausescu family, while Mr Chitac was a high-ranking army commander.

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