Sunday, December 9, 2007

Romania cancels charges against ex-president

BUCHAREST, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Romania cancelled charges against former President Ion Iliescu in the case of a 1990 miners' riot due to procedural errors, the prosecutor general said on Friday, but added that the investigation would continue.

Moscow-educated Iliescu, who ruled the country for all but six years since the fall of communism in 1989, was under investigation for masterminding deadly riots in 1990, when 20,000 miners stormed the capital Bucharest to crush demonstrations against Iliescu's party.

He has denied accusations he engineered the violence, in which six people were killed and hundreds injured.

"I have ordered the cancellation of the resolution to start a criminal inquiry against Ion Iliescu," prosecutor general Laura Codruta Kovesi told a news conference on Friday.

"The inquiry will continue and the person under investigation has already been called for hearings next week."

Kovesi said Iliescu had been notified of incorrect charges. Other procedural errors included the failure to mention the date when the investigation started, she said.

She said she has notified the European Union newcomer's judicial watchdog, calling for an investigation into the way military prosecutors handled the case. Iliescu has been investigated by military prosecutors in connection with four deaths during the riots, but the criminal inquiry against him has been transferred to civil prosecutors in June following a constitutional court ruling. (Reporting by Marius Zaharia and Luiza Ilie; Editing by Sami Aboudi)

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