By ALISON MUTLER (AP)
BUCHAREST, Romania — Gen. Nicolae Plesita, a die-hard Communist and ruthless chief of the Securitate secret police who arranged shelter in Romania for terrorist "Carlos the Jackal," and was tried for the bombing of Radio Free Europe has died, news reports said Wednesday.
He was 80.Plesita died on Monday in Bucharest at a hospital of the Romanian Intelligence Service where he was being treated for various illnesses including diabetes, Agerpres and mediafax news agencies reported, citing family members. Radu Chirca, a city hall official in Plesita's home town of Curtea de Arges said he would be buried there later Wednesday.Plesita commanded the Securitate's foreign intelligence service from 1980 to 1984.
He gained notoriety for his contacts with Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos the Jackal," who was hired by the Securitate on the orders of ex-dictator Nicolae Ceausescu to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and bomb the Radio Free Europe offices in Munich in 1981. Nine people were injured in the attack on the Munich-based radio that broadcast into communist Eastern Europe.
In 1998, Plesita told court prosecutors said that Ceausescu had ordered him to find temporary shelter for Sanchez in Romania in after the bombing. Ceausescu sold arms and explosives to Sanchez and enabled him to produce counterfeit passports and driver's licenses, Romanian media reported.After the 1989 anti-communist revolt, Plesita faced a military trial in Romania for being an accomplice in the Radio Free Europe attack, in which nine people were injured. The trial was interrupted several times and he was eventually found innocent earlier this year.
In post-communist Romania, Plesita continued to attract attention with his revelations from the Communist period, and showed no remorse for crushing Romanian anti-communist dissent.In an interview in 1999, he said Ceausescu had enjoyed "special relations" with late French President Francois Mitterrand and gave him at least $400,000 for his presidential campaign in 1981.
Plesita's public appearances and relaxed manner were accepted in post-communist Romania partly because many former high-ranking Securitate officers still have key positions in politics and business.
Born April 16, 1929, Plesita was recruited to the Securitate as a teenager and rose in the ranks after he helped eradicate the last vestiges of anti-communist resistance in the Transylvanian mountains in the late 1950s. In 1977 he helped stifle striking coal miners in the Jiu Valley whose unrest posed a threat to Ceausescu.It was after this that he was promoted to head foreign intelligence. A committed communist, Plesita was a harsh critic of Gen. Ion Pacepa, a top ranking Securitate officer who defected to the United States in 1978. Ceausescu hired Sanchez to assassinate Pacepa but he failed.