Amid reports of negligence and poor management, Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has fired the head of the institute tasked with investigating crimes committed by the communist regime which collapsed 30 years ago.
Orban dismissed Radu Preda, an Orthodox priest and theologian, who has run the Institute for Investigating the Crimes of Communism since 2014.
The move came after a government audit and a journalistic investigation that alleged Preda had a sloppy and negligent approach to his job, and disputes with the institute’s staff.
Preda, 47, played down the criticism, such as he spent very little time at the institute, saying he didn’t need to be in the office to be efficient.
He called his firing “not only illegal, but immoral,” in a post on Facebook. He said he was intending to quit his position before his dismissal, to take up a post as priest in the German city of Munich.
The institute which was set up in 2005 by former Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu received national and international acclaim under its former director Andrei Muraru, who is currently an adviser to President Klaus Iohannis.
Muraru, a historian, initiated investigations into some 35 former prison guards, dubbed “torturers” by the Romanian media, including the notorious Alexandru Visinescu and Ion Ficior, the first officials from the early years of communism to go on trial in Romania.
They became national symbols of the Communist era’s brutality against its own people, most of whom who had simply fallen afoul of the regime. They both died in jail.
Romania had about 500,000 political prisoners under the Communist regime that was in power from 1947 until 1989, about one-fifth of whom died while in detention, according to historians.