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28th May 2022

Remains of former Romanian dictator exhumed for DNA check

More than 20 years after they were executed by firing squad, Romania's former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were exhumed on Wednesday at the request of their family to check if they were really buried there.

"I don't know what will happen if it is discovered that the Ceausescus are not in these graves. Probably we will sue the Romanian state." Mircea Opran, the husband of the Ceausescus' late daughter Zoia, told television station Realitatea TV.

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  • The 'most beloved son' of the Communist Party is still loathed by most Romanians (Photo: TheYoungDylanWaitsInTheCave)

Forensic experts estimate it could take weeks or months for the DNA test results to be completed, depending on the quality of samples taken from the graves.

Ceausescu ruled Romania from 1965 until he and Elena were captured and shot by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989 after fleeing mass protests in Bucharest, in what was the only bloody overturn of a Communist regime in the eastern bloc.

Romanians watched the mini-trial and the execution live on public television, cheering the "death of the dictator" who once was acclaimed as the "most beloved son" of the Communist Party. His lavish lifestyle contrasted grossly with the empty store shelves, rationalised food supplies, scarce water and electricity that Romanians had to face every day, living in fear of the powerful secret police, the Securitate.

Rumours about their bodies not being actually in the Bucharest grave have always floated around, especially among the few, harbouring nostalgia, who gather yearly in the cemetery to lay flowers on his birthday.

Zoia Ceausescu, who died of lung cancer in 2006, first asked for the identities of the bodies to be checked soon after the executions but the process was delayed for years as it proceeded through Romania's bureaucratic legal system.

Mr Opran said after the exhumation that he tended to believe the remains were indeed those of the former communist dictator and his wife, who ruled the country through the Securitate. He said he saw bullet holes in the clothes they found in Ceausescu's grave.

"The mystery is not elucidated. After what I saw, I tend to believe they are them. But until the DNA test is finished, I do not have a 100 percent confirmation, I am not 100 percent convinced."

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