A former colleague of Iulian Vlad, the general who led Romania's feared communist-era Securitate secret police, says Vlad has died at age 86.

Petru Neghiu, a general in reserve, told Antena 3 TV, that Vlad died Saturday, following an illness. Neghiu says Vlad made confession to a priest shortly before his death.

Vlad joined the Communist Party after World War II and rose within the state apparatus. He was appointed head of the Securitate in 1987 and held the position until the 1989 revolt when Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed and executed.

Some 1,100 people were killed during the uprising. Vlad claimed he told his troops not to open fire.

In 1990, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in repressing the revolt, but was released after four years.