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  • Romania court to free miners’ riot leader on parole

    Romania court to free miners’ riot leader on parole

    A Romanian court decided on Tuesday to free on parole the jailed leader of miners’ riots that helped topple the country’s first post-communist government in 1991.

    Miron Cozma is serving a 10-year sentence for leading thousands of coalminers from the northwestern Jiu Valley to Bucharest, where they invaded parliament, set fire to government buildings and forced reformist premier Petre Roman to resign.

    Three people were killed in the three-day rampage.

    „The court endorsed the proposal to free Cozma,” court spokesman Silviu Cernea told Reuters.

    Miners descended repeatedly on the capital after a violent revolution ended communist rule in Romania in December 1989, determined to influence post-communist political developments.

    Analysts said harrowing images, broadcast round the world, of people being beaten on the streets hampered Romania’s efforts to transform itself into a market economy by deterring badly needed foreign investment.

    The miners dubbed Cozma „the star of hardcoal,” because of the reputation for militancy he earned by leading them several times to the capital.

    Cozma’s term expires in 10 months, and the Bucharest prison where he is jailed decided late last year to grant him early release for good conduct, subject to court approval.

    A spokesman for the General Prosecutor’s Office told Reuters prosecutors would appeal against the court decision.

    Cozma was not charged in connection with the miners’ riot of June 1990, when 20,000 coalminers came to Bucharest and crushed demonstrations against President Ion Iliescu, leaving six people dead and more than 100 wounded.

    Iliescu denied allegations that he had summoned the miners, saying they themselves decided to board trains to the capital to rescue the nation from „hooligans.” A criminal inquiry into the 1990 violence is still under way.

    „An early release for Cozma is outrageous,” said Viorel Ene, leader of the miners’ victims association.

    Sursa: Reuters, 09.01.2007

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