A man who has been charged with genocide for allegedly killing 103 political prisoners while serving as a top official at a former Romanian labor camp says he has pleaded not guilty.

After a closed pre-trial hearing Friday, 85-year-old Ion Ficior told Romanian TV about his plea and said he testified that he had followed the "norms and rules" of Romania's communist government but did not "directly act to kill prisoners."

Prosecutors say Ficior was deputy commander, then commander, of the Periprava labor camp from 1958 to 1963, when the deaths occurred.

The charge was filed after a Romanian institute that investigates communist-era crimes accused Ficior of genocide at the Periprava camp. The institute says the prisoners died there from malnutrition, beatings, lack of medicine and dysentery.