The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Romania to pay compensation to 17 Romanians whose relatives were shot dead during the 1989 anti-communist revolt.

In its ruling Tuesday the court said a criminal investigation in Romania had failed to identify the perpetrators and put them on trial 26 years after the deaths during the bloodiest anti-communist revolt.

The court ordered Romania to pay 15,000 euros ($16,500) to each of the 17 relatives of those who were killed in December 1989.

More than 1,200 people died during the uprising where former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was ousted and executed.

Ion Iliescu, an ex-communist official, came to power during the revolt and was later elected president. Many former apparatchiks kept their jobs.

Critics say there was no will to investigate who ordered the shooting.