Four top officials in the government of Nicolae Ceausescu were convicted today of supporting his orders to shoot scores of demonstrators and were sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal.
The four men were convicted of being accomplices to genocide during the December revolution that toppled the Communist dictator after 24 years, Radio Bucharest reported.
Western diplomats have said as many as 10,000 people died in the fighting between Ceausescu's Securitate forces and citizens who joined with the army.
The tribunal, the first to try leading figures in the Ceausescu government, rejected a prosecution demand that the four be convicted of the more serious crime of "co-authorship to genocide."
The five-judge panel ordered the seizure of all property belonging to the four men--including gold, jewels and large sums of money--and stripped them of their civil rights.
The four, who had already pleaded guilty to the charge of "complicity to genocide," stood solemnly as the tribunal president, Col. Andrei Nitoiu, announced the majority verdict after two hours of deliberation.
Three of the four defendants--Emil Bobu, 62, former secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee and the third-ranking member of the Ceausescu leadership; former state council Vice President Manea Manescu, 74, and former Politburo member Ion Dinca, 62--stared at the judges, showing no emotion as the verdict was read. Former Interior Minister Tudor Postelnicu, 59, bowed his head, as he had through much of the five-day trial.
Bobu, Postelnicu and Manescu said they will appeal, but Dinca told the judge he will not.
The four Politburo members admitted they backed Ceausescu's orders to shoot the demonstrators and did nothing to end his dictatorship. But they all denied they gave direct orders to put down the protests.