Romania: Probe sought in communist-era deaths of 340 orphans

June 25, 2018 - 12:17 pm

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian government institute asked prosecutors Monday to investigate the deaths of 340 children at a communist-era orphanage during the 1980s.

The Institute for Investigating the Crimes of Communism said the deaths occurred from 1980-1989 at "the Horror Orphanage," the nickname local residents gave to a facility for children with chronic neurological disorders in the northern town of Siret.

A total of 8,586 children were admitted there from 1956 until the facility closed in 2001. There were 1,500 deaths during that period, but the institute only reviewed ones from the 1980s due to time constraints. It said 81 children died in 1981 alone.

The institute wants prosecutors to see if poor care contributed to the orphans' deaths, most of which took place during the winter and had lung disease, epilepsy, cardiac ailments and kidney and liver disorders listed as the primary causes.

The children died "from pathologies that were easy to prevent, if they were diagnosed early enough and treated properly," the institute said in a statement. In some cases, the institute concluded that "a regime of inhumane treatment" led to the deaths.

Under communism, people with disabilities were considered "rejects" in Romania and often kept in institutions.

After Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu was executed in December 1989, television stations broadcast images of thousands of Romanian children who had been abandoned in orphanages, often in squalid conditions.

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