Romanian court hands ex-prison chief 20 years for 103 deaths

A Romanian court has sentenced a former prison commander to 20 years in prison for the deaths of 103 political prisoners while he was commander of a communist-era labor camp.

The Bucharest court on Wednesday handed the sentence to Ion Ficior, 87, who was commander at the Periprava labor camp from 1958 to 1963. He has 10 days to appeal.

Former detainees accused Ficior of beatings, a lack of food and medicine, and unheated cells. He denies wrongdoing and says he was merely following orders.

Last month, in the first case of its kind in Romania, a court upheld a 20-year sentence against another former commander, Alexandru Visinescu, for the abuse and deaths of prisoners at the Ramnicu Sarat prison, which he ran from 1956 to 1963.