Thursday, March 12, 2009

Romania drops charges against ex-president in 1990 riot

BUCHAREST, March 11 (Reuters) - Romania has dropped charges against former President Ion Iliescu of undermining state authority in 1990 miners' riots during the country's difficult transition from communism, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The general prosecutors' office said Iliescu, founder of Romania's powerful leftist Social Democrat Party, had been cleared in a criminal investigation of charges including undermining state authority and communicating false information.

A prosecutor quoted by state news agency Agerpres said Iliescu was still under investigation on other criminal charges, but did not elaborate.

Last year, prosecutors dropped murder charges against him, saying there was no evidence he had a role in the killing of four people when 20,000 miners stormed the capital and clashed with demonstrators protesting against Iliescu's rise to power.

Iliescu has repeatedly denied accusations he engineered the violence, which commentators said hampered Romania's transition to a market economy and deterred badly needed foreign investment for years. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; editing by Andrew Roche)

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