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Nicolae Pleşiţă

Nicolae Pleşiţă

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Nicolae Pleşiţă was a Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n intelligence official and secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 investigator. From 1980 to 1984, he led the Foreign Intelligence Service
Serviciul de Informatii Externe
The Foreign Intelligence Service, or Serviciul de Informaţii Externe in Romanian, is, under Law no. 1/1998, "the state body specialized in foreign intelligence concerning the national security and the safeguarding of Romania and its interests"....

 of the Securitate
Securitate
The Securitate was the secret police agency of Communist Romania. Previously, the Romanian secret police was called Siguranţa Statului. Founded on August 30, 1948, with help from the Soviet NKVD, the Securitate was abolished in December 1989, shortly after President Nicolae Ceaușescu was...

, the secret service of Communist Romania
Communist Romania
Communist Romania was the period in Romanian history when that country was a Soviet-aligned communist state in the Eastern Bloc, with the dominant role of Romanian Communist Party enshrined in its successive constitutions...

. He was described by the New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

and Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 at the time of his death as "a die-hard Communist and ruthless chief of the Securitate secret police."

A participant in various actions taken against armed or peaceful anti-communist groups, Pleşiţă began his career as a Romanian Communist Party
Romanian Communist Party
The Romanian Communist Party was a communist political party in Romania. Successor to the Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party of Romania, it gave ideological endorsement to communist revolution and the disestablishment of Greater Romania. The PCR was a minor and illegal grouping for much of the...

 cadre, and rose through the ranks of the Securitate while holding various political offices in the Interior Ministry. Personally involved in the brutal interrogation of dissidents such as Paul Goma
Paul Goma
Paul Goma is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he became a political refugee and currently resides in France as a stateless person...

, and allegedly the person masterminding several attacks on the Romanian diaspora
Romanian diaspora
The Romanian diaspora is the ethnically Romanian population outside Romania and Moldova. The concept does not usually include the ethnic Romanians who live as natives in the states surrounding Romania, chiefly those Romanians who live in Ukraine and Serbia. The diaspora does include the people of...

, he is most remembered for his connections with the Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

n terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 Carlos the Jackal
Carlos the Jackal
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez , better known as Carlos the Jackal, is a Venezuelan pro-Palestinian currently serving a life sentence in France for shooting to death two French secret agents and a Lebanese informer in 1975....

. He arranged for Carlos to be sheltered in Romania after the bombing of Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed"...

 and was accused, but eventually found innocent in a Romanian court, of complicity in the bombing. After the successful 1989 Revolution
Romanian Revolution of 1989
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a series of riots and clashes in December 1989. These were part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several Warsaw Pact countries...

, Pleşiţă was also noted for openly admitting his various involvements in acts of violence, and for claiming that they were justified by circumstance.

Early years and activities against the armed resistance


Pleşiţă was born in Curtea de Argeş
Curtea de Arges
Curtea de Argeș is a city in Romania on the right bank of the Argeş River, where it flows through a valley of the lower Carpathians , on the railway from Pitești to the Turnu Roşu Pass. It is part of Argeș County. The city administers one village, Noapteș...

, a town in Argeş County
Arges County
Argeș is a county of Romania, in Wallachia, with the capital city at Pitești.-Demographics:In 2002, it had a population of 652,625 and the population density was 95/km².*Romanians – 96%*Roma , and other.-Geography:...

, southern Romania. According to Gheorghe Florescu, a black marketer
Underground economy
A black market or underground economy is a market in goods or services which operates outside the formal one supported by established state power. Typically the totality of such activity is referred to with the definite article as a complement to the official economies, by market for such goods and...

 of coffee and memoirist who met Pleşiţă during communism, the future general had exceptionally lowly origins, being "the son of a farm hand with a two primary classes education and an illiterate peasant woman, who hailed from a family of outlaw
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

s in Târgovişte
Târgoviste
Târgoviște is a city in the Dâmbovița county of Romania. It is situated on the right bank of the Ialomiţa River. , it had an estimated population of 89,000. One village, Priseaca, is administered by the city.-Name:...

 area." A worker at the Moroieni Lumber Factory in his native city and head of the industry's trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 by the age of 18, he joined the Communist Party in 1947, the year when the communist regime was set up, and became active in party affairs.

In 1948, Pleşiţă was transferred to the Argeş County directorate of the Union of Communist Youth
Union of Communist Youth
The Union of Communist Youth was the Romanian Communist Party's youth organisation, modelled after the Soviet Komsomol. It aimed to cultivate young cadres into the party, as well as to help create the "new man" envisioned by communist ideologues.-History:Founded in 1922, the UTC went underground...

, and came to the attention of recruiters for the new Securitate secret police. He joined the organisation in 1948 and worked his way through the ranks during the 1950s: instantly promoted to the rank of Plutonier (Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
A warrant officer is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.The rank was first...

) active with the Securitate branch in Piteşti
Pitesti
Pitești is a city in Romania, located on the Argeș River. The capital and largest city of Argeș County, it is an important commercial and industrial center, as well as the home of two universities. Pitești is situated on the A1 freeway connecting it directly to the national capital Bucharest,...

, he rose to high political office after 1951-1953, when he became Head of the Securitate Service in, successively, Regiunea Arad
Regiunea Arad
Regiunea Arad was one of the newly established administrative divisions of the People's Republic of Romania, copied after the Soviet style of territorial organisation...

, Regiunea Vîlcea and Regiunea Argeş
Regiunea Arges
Regiunea Argeş was one of the newly established administrative divisions of the People's Republic of Romania, copied after the Soviet style of territorial organisation. It existed until 1952, when its territory merged with Vâlcea region to form Piteşti region...

. He was afterward assigned to the national capital Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, where he was himself a Securitate recruiter directly assigned to the Cadre Commission of the Interior Ministry, before returning to Piteşti in 1956 and taking over as temporary regional head of the Securitate.

In 1958, Pleşiţă earned communist distinction for his work in eradicating anti-communist resistance
Romanian anti-communist resistance movement
An armed resistance movement against the communist regime in Romania was active from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s, with isolated individual fighters remaining at large until the early 1960s. Armed resistance was the first and most structured form of resistance against the communist regime...

 in the Carpathian
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

 regions of Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

. The honours he received included the Star of the People's Republic of Romania Order
Order of the Star of Romania
The Order of the Star of Romania is Romania's highest civil order. It is awarded by the President of Romania...

 and the rank of Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

. In parallel, having attended night school
Night School
Night School is a school that holds classes in the evening or at night, and is usually intended for continuing and adult learning and to accommodate people who work during the day.Night School may also refer to:...

 classes in Marxism-Leninism
Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

 (which the regime had declared equivalent to university-level studies), he completed a one-year course in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. From 1961 to 1967, he was directly assigned to the Transylvanian city of Cluj
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

, becoming head of the secret police apparatus in Regiunea Cluj
Regiunea Cluj
Regiunea Cluj was one of the newly established administrative divisions of the People's Republic of Romania, set after the soviet style.-History:...

. A deputy member of the regional Communist Party committee, he graduated from the History Department of the University of Cluj (Babeş-Bolyai)
Babes-Bolyai University
The Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca is an university in Romania. With almost 50,000 students, the university offers 105 specialisations, of which there are 105 in Romanian, 67 in Hungarian, 17 in German, and 5 in English...

 in 1968.

Participation in repressions of the 1970s


After the Cluj interval, he was again transferred to Bucharest as the head of the directorate of security guards at the Ministry of the Interior, where he was promoted to the rank of Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

. In November 1972, Pleşiţă was assigned to the homeland secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 department, as head of its 1st Directorate, also working as head of the Securitate Supply Office in Ilfov County
Ilfov County
Ilfov is the county that surrounds Bucharest, the capital of Romania. It used to be largely rural, but after the fall of communism, many of the county's villages and communes developed into high-income commuter towns, which act like suburbs or satellites of Bucharest...

 (1972–1973). Having returned to as a deputy for the 1st Directorate, he held high office within the Interior Ministry: Secretary General (1973–1975) and First Deputy to Ministers Teodor Coman and George Homoştean (1975–1978). Nicolae Pleşiţă was made Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 by Communist Romanian President
President of Romania
The President of Romania is the head of state of Romania. The President is directly elected by a two-round system for a five-year term . An individual may serve two terms...

 Nicolae Ceauşescu
Nicolae Ceausescu
Nicolae Ceaușescu was a Romanian Communist politician. He was General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 to 1989, and as such was the country's second and last Communist leader...

 in April 1977. According to Gheorghe Florescu's recollections, Pleşiţă was also discreetly establishing himself as a presence on the criminal underground, by tolerating or endorsing illicit dealings in commodities. These activities, Florescu claimed, were shared among members of the communist elite, among them his fellow Securitate operative and future rival Ion Mihai Pacepa
Ion Mihai Pacepa
Ion Mihai Pacepa is the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the former Eastern Bloc. He is now a United States citizen, a writer, and a columnist....

—while the latter secretly represented a pro-Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 line within the intelligence and underworld environment, Pleşiţă's dealings were reputedly directed toward Soviet and Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

ern connections.

Also in 1977, Pleşiţă was involved in the violent inquiry of writer Paul Goma
Paul Goma
Paul Goma is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he became a political refugee and currently resides in France as a stateless person...

, who had attempted to organize a local dissident movement and was eventually expelled from the country. A participant in the Goma movement, psychiatrist Ion Vianu
Ion Vianu
Ion Vianu is a Romanian writer and psychiatrist, who was exiled to Switzerland in 1977. He is the son of literary critic Tudor Vianu and his wife Elena....

 (noted for exposing the use of involuntary commitment
Involuntary commitment
Involuntary commitment or civil commitment is a legal process through which an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness is court-ordered into treatment in a hospital or in the community ....

 as a political weapon), recounted having met Pleşiţă three times before being himself expelled to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

: "The first time, upon the start of my dissidence, he shouted at me and looked on the verge of hitting me. The second time, several weeks later, he threatened me with prison telling me that he would lock me up with the 'loons' that they had committed into hospitals to ensure their protection and who, as detainees, would exert their revenge on me. Now, once the powers that be had decided to let me go, he was calm and only resorted to threatening me that, once abroad, I should not start talking, because the arm of the revolution was long and the wrath of the people would follow me." Vianu also recalls having refused to make any such promise, but notes that the interest his case had already generated in France made "Pleşiţă and his kind" fear taking more severe action against him.

In August of that year, he was credited with helping to stifle coal miners when unrest from the large-scale miners' strike
Jiu Valley miners' strike of 1977
The Jiu Valley miners' strike of 1977 was the largest protest movement against the Communist regime in Romania before its final days, ushering in a period of intermittent labour unrest that would last a dozen years, and the most important challenge posed by a group of workers to the regime since...

 in the Jiu Valley
Jiu Valley
The Jiu Valley is a region in southwestern Romania, in Hunedoara county, situated in a valley of the Jiu River between the Retezat Mountains and the Parâng Mountains...

 threatened the Ceauşescu regime's grip on society. The Securitate was accused of brutal repression and torture in its efforts to end the unrest. After Ceauşescu was widely booed and jeered during a five-hour speech to the miners, the Valley was declared a restricted area from August 4, 1977 until January 1, 1978. Large numbers of Securitate and military personnel were deployed to the area. Repression took various forms. Workers were interrogated at the Petroşani
Petrosani
Petroşani is a city in Hunedoara County, Romania, with a population of 45,447 .-History:The city of Petroşani was founded in the 17th century...

 Securitate building, where some were beaten over the head and had their fingers bound to doors. At least 600 miners were interrogated; 150 penal dossiers were opened; 50 were forcefully hospitalised in psychiatric wards; 15 were sentenced to correctional labour
Penal labour
Penal labour is a form of unfree labour in which prisoners perform work, typically manual labour. The work may be light or hard, depending on the context. Forms of sentence which involve penal labour include penal servitude and imprisonment with hard labour...

 and actually imprisoned, while a further 300 or more (who were considered dangerous) were internally deported. Almost 4,000 of the striking workers were sacked.

Head of Foreign Intelligence and cooperation with Carlos


After 1978, Pleşiţă was commander of the Interior Ministry commissioned officers' school in Băneasa
Baneasa
Băneasa is a borough in the north side of Bucharest, near the Băneasa Lake . Like all north-side districts of Bucharest, it is relatively sparsely populated, with large areas of parkland...

, while serving as member of the core Communist Party cell for its Ministry branch. From 1980 to 1984, after his predecessor Ion Mihai Pacepa had defected to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Pleşiţă was the head of the Securitate's Foreign Intelligence Service
Serviciul de Informatii Externe
The Foreign Intelligence Service, or Serviciul de Informaţii Externe in Romanian, is, under Law no. 1/1998, "the state body specialized in foreign intelligence concerning the national security and the safeguarding of Romania and its interests"....

. In tandem, he served as First Deputy Interior Minister to Homoştean in several new Romanian cabinets, and rose to the position of substitute member of the Communist Party Central Committee
Central Committee
Central Committee was the common designation of a standing administrative body of communist parties, analogous to a board of directors, whether ruling or non-ruling in the twentieth century and of the surviving, mostly Trotskyist, states in the early twenty first. In such party organizations the...

.

In 1981, the Securitate hired Carlos the Jackal
Carlos the Jackal
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez , better known as Carlos the Jackal, is a Venezuelan pro-Palestinian currently serving a life sentence in France for shooting to death two French secret agents and a Lebanese informer in 1975....

 to assassinate Romanian dissidents living in western Europe and to bomb the offices of Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed"...

 (RFE), a Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 radio station that broadcast into Romania and other parts of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. Eight or nine persons were injured in the RFE bombing. Press reports indicated that Pleşiţă brought Carlos to Romania to organize the RFE bombing and gave him plastic explosive
Plastic explosive
Plastic explosive is a specialised form of explosive material. It is a soft and hand moldable solid material. Plastic explosives are properly known as putty explosives within the field of explosives engineering....

s, fake documents and videotapes, pictures and sketches of the RFE headquarters. Such accounts further reported that Pleşiţă rewarded Carlos with 400,000 United States dollar
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

s deposited in an account at the Romanian Bank for Foreign Trade under the name of Carlos' lover and partner. Reportedly, Pleşiţă ordered the RFE bombing and hired Carlos to murder Romanian dissidents in exile and also to assassinate his predecessor Pacepa.

In November 1984, Pleşiţă was deposed and appointed commander of the Grădiştea
Gradistea, Ilfov
Grădiştea is a commune in the northeastern part of Ilfov County, Romania. It is composed of two villages, Grădiştea and Sitaru. Its name is of Slavic origin and has the meaning of the Latin word castrum. The name was used by the Slavs to locate the ruins of the old Roman fortifications.-References:...

 teacher training school for the Ministry of the Interior. Following the overthrow of Ceauşescu in the December 1989 Revolution
Romanian Revolution of 1989
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a series of riots and clashes in December 1989. These were part of the Revolutions of 1989 that occurred in several Warsaw Pact countries...

, Pleşiţă, who was passed into reserve with the rank of Lieutenant General (1990), was indicted for complicity in the RFE bombing. German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 requests for extradition of Pleşiţă were not granted, and he was tried instead by a Romanian military court. It also investigated the former Securitate general on charges of first-degree murder, assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

, false imprisonment
False imprisonment
False imprisonment is a restraint of a person in a bounded area without justification or consent. False imprisonment is a common-law felony and a tort. It applies to private as well as governmental detention...

, kidnapping
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

 and several counts of perjury
Perjury
Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

. During the procedures, Pleşiţă testified that he had been assigned by Ceauşescu to contact and cooperate with Carlos. He went on record stating that he found Carlos a "sympathetic" figure and the charges "idiocies", while declining legal counsel. According to his own testimony: "This does not mean that, during the 42 years I've spent in the world of espionage, I was either a saint or a pillar of the church."

Pleşiţă thus stated that he had personally masterminded the killing of dissidents: "I killed them, of course. That's what we did". In his account, the Securitate included an entire Lichidări ("Liquidations") service, which he had personally reorganised and assigned to Colonel Sergiu Nica. He also claimed: "the mission of those under [Nica's] orders was to liquidate those sentenced to death
Capital punishment in Romania
Capital punishment in Romania was abolished in 1989, and has been prohibited by the Constitution of Romania since 1991.-Antecedents:The death penalty has a long and varied history in present-day Romania. Vlad III the Impaler was notorious for executing thousands by impalement...

 by final court decisions and who had fled the country. Only the soldiers who had files kept on them as traitors of the country were ever pursued and executed." He also admitted that Ceauşescu had contemplated the use of Carlos' services against Pacepa, but concluded that the Venezuelan had ultimately been excluded from this scenario. In a 2008 documentary film produced by Alexandru Solomon, Carlos himself recalled having met and grown fond of Pleşiţă, and indicated having received two Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

-made rifles as presents from his Romanian connection. In later statements, Pleşiţă came to allege that Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and former collaborator of Carlos, was a homosexual
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

, and physically attracted to (or even involved in a sexual relationship with) the Venezuelan terrorist.

In 2000, the military court conducting the investigation of Pleşiţă's role in the bombing stopped the investigation. In accordance with Romanian legal requirements, according to which civilians could only face civilian courts, the case was reassigned to regular prosecutors in 2004. In the spring of 2009, after 19 years of investigation, they decided to end the inquiry without a formal indictment, and the tribunal determined that Pleşiţă was not guilty of complicity in the bombing. Prosecutor Dan Voinea, who had previously worked on the case, criticized the decision, noting that the evidence against Pleşiţă was compelling, and that the decision to involve a civilian jurisdiction only became relevant after the dossier collaterally implicated former Securitate head Tudor Postelnicu
Tudor Postelnicu
Tudor Postelnicu is a former Romanian Communist politician, who served as Interior Minister from October 1987 until the 1989 Revolution.-Biography:...

, who held no military rank.

In parallel, the CNSAS government agency (tasked with exposing secret Securitate files), officially attested that Pleşiţă had been involved in political policing of the Romanian population, but its power to render such verdicts was being contested by other court decisions. In 2007, the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes presented a formal complaint against the general, accusing him of terrorism
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 over the Munich bombing. Radio Free Europe's Şerban Orăscu, who joined the Institute in this gesture, suspected an attempt on the part of post-communist authorities
History of Romania since 1989
- 1989 revolution :1989 marked the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. A mid-December protest in Timişoara against the eviction of a Hungarian minister grew into a country-wide protest against the Ceauşescu régime, sweeping the dictator from power....

 to hide Pleşiţă's involvement, arguing that several pages had been purposefully removed from his own Securitate file (which he had recovered from the CNSAS). Journalist Andreea Pora, who connects the procedural delays with the alleged unwillingness of Social Democratic
Social Democratic Party (Romania)
The Social Democratic Party is the major social-democratic political party in Romania. It was formed in 1992, after the post-communist National Salvation Front broke apart. It adopted its present name after a merger with a minor social-democratic party in 2001. Since its formation, it has always...

 politicians to investigate communist crimes, also notes that the decision not to indict Pleşiţă closely followed a similar resolution in the case of Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu
Ion Iliescu served as President of Romania from 1990 until 1996, and from 2000 until 2004. From 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 until his retirement in 2008, Iliescu was a Senator for the Social Democratic Party , whose honorary president he remains....

, Social Democratic leader and first post-communist President, who was a subject of an inquiry about his participation in the Romanian Revolution. Pora also alleged that the civilian prosecutors were more likely to answer political commands than their military predecessors.

Later claims and final years


After the Revolution, Pleşiţă continued to receive one of the largest pensions of any former government official in Romania and lived in a villa that was a gift from Ceauşescu. Press reports noted that he was receiving some 6,000 lei
Romanian leu
The leu is the currency of Romania. It is subdivided into 100 bani . The name of the currency means "lion". On 1 July 2005, Romania underwent a currency reform, switching from the previous leu to a new leu . 1 RON is equal to 10,000 ROL...

 (around 2,000 Euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

s) or over per month. He withdrew to the outskirts of Curtea de Argeş
Curtea de Arges
Curtea de Argeș is a city in Romania on the right bank of the Argeş River, where it flows through a valley of the lower Carpathians , on the railway from Pitești to the Turnu Roşu Pass. It is part of Argeș County. The city administers one village, Noapteș...

, where he lived in the same house as his son, and was said to have been frequently visited by another suspected Securitate torturer, Gheorghe Enoiu.

In his later years, Pleşiţă was often interviewed in the Romanian press and expressed no remorse for his role in crushing anti-communist dissent. This attitude was itself the subject of controversy. Evenimentul Zilei
Evenimentul Zilei
Evenimentul Zilei is one of the leading newspapers in Romania. Based in Bucharest, the Romanian-language daily has a paid daily circulation of 110,000...

journalist Vlad Stoicescu referred to Pleşiţă as "one of the most visible and vocal communist torturers in Romania". Similarly, România Liberă
România Libera
România Liberă is one of the leading newspapers in Romania. Based in Bucharest, the Romanian-language daily has a paid daily circulation of 40,000....

daily referred to Pleşiţă as "the perfect example of a Securitate boss, who openly assumed his actions of political policing, and even murders committed by the communists, but who lived a carefree existence in post-1989 Romania." Andreea Pora viewed his stance as clashing with the official condemnation of communism by President Traian Băsescu
Traian Basescu
Traian Băsescu is the current President of Romania. After serving as the mayor of Bucharest from June 2000 until December 2004, he was elected president in the Romanian Presidential Elections of 2004 and inaugurated on December 20, 2004...

 and the Tismăneanu Commission
Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania
The Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania , also known as the Tismăneanu Commission , is a commission instituted in Romania by President Traian Băsescu to investigate the Communist regime and provide a comprehensive report allowing for the condemnation of...

, noting: "At a time when Traian Băsescu was condemning communism in Parliament
Parliament of Romania
The Parliament of Romania is made up of two chambers:*The Chamber of Deputies*The SenatePrior to the modifications of the Constitution in 2003, the two houses had identical attributes. A text of a law had to be approved by both houses...

 [...], Nicolae Pleşiţă was laughing on live television broadcasts carried by various stations, casually admitting his crimes, telling us that they were 'mere trifles'." According to Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

, this was partly made possible by the political climate of post-1989 Romania, where "many former high-ranking Securitate officers still have key positions in politics and business." At times, his statements defined the Securitate as a body working "for the country's progress", and he personally urged former subordinates to assassinate "traitors who defected to the enemy." He openly told interviewers that he had beaten dissident writer Paul Goma
Paul Goma
Paul Goma is a Romanian writer, also known for his activities as a dissident and leading opponent of the communist regime before 1989. Forced into exile by the communist authorities, he became a political refugee and currently resides in France as a stateless person...

, and recounted that he had been dragging his prisoner around his Securitate cell by his beard. Using agent Matei Pavel Haiducu
Matei Pavel Haiducu
Matei Pavel Haiducu was a Romanian secret agent who defected to France in 1981. He belonged to the "Direcţia Informaţii Externe" of the Securitate.He was born in Bucharest as Matei Pavel Hirsch...

, the Securitate had later attempted, unsuccessfully, to assassinate Goma while he was in self-exile in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Suspicion of Pleşiţă's personal participation in this move made him the target of a separate investigation opened by Romanian prosecutors in 2007.

Pleşiţă's various accounts implicated many other figures in Romania and abroad. Referring to his early activities in Cluj
Cluj-Napoca
Cluj-Napoca , commonly known as Cluj, is the fourth most populous city in Romania and the seat of Cluj County in the northwestern part of the country. Geographically, it is roughly equidistant from Bucharest , Budapest and Belgrade...

, he claimed first-hand information that poet and communist journalist Anatol E. Baconsky
Anatol E. Baconsky
Anatol E. Baconsky , also known as A. E. Bakonsky, Baconschi or Baconski, was a Romanian modernist poet, essayist, translator, novelist, publisher, literary and art critic...

, alter known for his dissenting opinions, was an informer of the Securitate (according to literary critic Paul Cernat, the version of events told by "a butcher" matched that of the Securitate's victims within the Sibiu Literary Circle
Sibiu Literary Circle
The Sibiu Literary Circle was a literary group created during World War II in Sibiu to promote the modernist liberal ideas of Eugen Lovinescu....

). In the 1990s, former Securitate agents stated that the Soviet KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 had charged the Securitate with "infiltrating France." In his autobiography Red Horizons, Pleşiţă's predecessor at the Foreign Intelligence Service, Pacepa, wrote that "Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 attributed France as a field of action to the Romanian services." In a television interview in 1999, Pleşiţă said that Ceauşescu and French Socialist Party
Socialist Party (France)
The Socialist Party is a social-democratic political party in France and the largest party of the French centre-left. It is one of the two major contemporary political parties in France, along with the center-right Union for a Popular Movement...

 leader François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 had had a "special relationship." Pleşiţă also said Ceauşescu had directed at least 250,000 British pounds or 400,000 dollars to Mitterrand's 1981 electoral campaign
French presidential election, 1981
The French presidential election of 1981 took place on 10 May 1981, giving the presidency of France to François Mitterrand, the first Socialist president of the Fifth Republic....

—which led to the first election of a Socialist President of France. In his retirement, Pleşiţă stated that, during his time as head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Romanian government had assisted North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

n leader Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 to hide a secret transfer of nuclear technology
Nuclear technology
Nuclear technology is technology that involves the reactions of atomic nuclei. Among the notable nuclear technologies are nuclear power, nuclear medicine, and nuclear weapons...

 and equipment, to be used in the Asian country's non-civilian nuclear programme
North Korea and weapons of mass destruction
North Korea has declared that it has nuclear weapons and is believed by many to have nuclear weapons. The CIA assesses that North Korea also has a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons...

. Pleşiţă said the transfer took place during a 1984 visit to Bucharest by Kim Il-sung. According to Pleşiţă, "When leaving, the presidential train also had aboard the elements necessary for producing the nuclear bomb
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

, which Ceauşescu had sold to his North Korean friend."

Pleşiţă died in September 2009 at age 80, after spending three months in a Bucharest sanatorium allegedly run by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI). He had suffered from several illnesses, including diabetes, but the cause of death was given as complications from a concussion. During his funeral service, held at the Capu Dealu Romanian Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

church in Curtea de Argeş, the SRI, obeying the family's wish, is said to have prevented reporters from witnessing the event. Intelligence Service spokespersons denied that the institution had overseen either Pleşiţă's hospitalisation or his funeral.