Romanian officials say communist prison commander caused deaths of 6 political prisoners

A Romanian committee investigating crimes committed in the name of communism has asked the general prosecutor to bring charges of aggravated murder against a prison commander for the deaths of six political prisoners.

From 1956 to 1963, Lt. Col. Alexandru Visinescu, now 87, ran the notorious Ramnicu Sarat prison where Romania's pre-communist political leaders were incarcerated.

Andrei Muraru, head of the institute investigating communist crimes, said prisoners died from beatings, hunger, a lack of medical treatment and exposure to cold. It plans to hand a total of 35 files to prosecutors.

Visinescu, speaking to journalists near his Bucharest home Tuesday, rejected the claims and said he was only doing his job. He cursed and took a swipe at a cameraman.

Romania had 617,000 political prisoners. One-fifth of them died.