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Romanian miners' leader freed
General prosecutor's office says it will appeal against the court decision.
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2007 19:36 GMT
Miners repeatedly rallied in the capital [EPA]

A Romanian court has freed, on parole, the jailed leader of miners' riots that helped topple the country's first post-communist government in 1991.

 

"The court endorsed the proposal to free Cozma," a R

Cozma is serving a 10-year sentence for leading thousands of coal miners from the northwestern Jiu Valley to Bucharest, where they invaded parliament, set fire to government buildings and forced Petre Roman, the prime minister, to resign.
 
Three people were killed in the three-day rampage.

Miners descended repeatedly on the capital after a violent revolution ended communist rule in Romania in December 1989, determined to influence post-communist political developments.

 

Analysts said images broadcast around the world of people being beaten on the streets slowed down Romania's efforts to transform itself into a market economy by deterring foreign investment.

 

Release reactions

 

Cozma's term expires in 10 months, and the prison in Bucharest where he is jailed decided late last year to grant him early release for good conduct, subject to court approval.

 

"An early release for Cozma is outrageous"

- Viorel Ene,
 
Miners' victims association
A spokesman for the general prosecutor's office said that prosecutors would appeal against the court's decision.

 

The leader of the Miners' Victims Association, Viorel Ene, said: "An early release for Cozma is outrageous."

 

Protests in 1990

 

Cozma was not charged in connection with the miners' riot of June 1990, when 20,000 miners came to Bucharest and crushed demonstrations against Ion Iliescu, the president, leaving six people dead and more than 100 wounded.

 

Iliescu denied allegations that he had summoned the miners, saying they  decided to board trains to the capital to rescue the nation from "hooligans".

 

A criminal inquiry into the violence is still under way.

Source:
Agencies
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