Romania's leading communist-era dissident dies

Constantin Ticu DumitrescuBucharest - Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, who relentlessly pressed Romania's politicians and security officials to open communist-era secret police files, died in Bucharest Friday aged 80.

Dumitrescu, a former political prisoner and then a senator in Romania's post-communist parliament from 1992 to 2000, had cancer, the Mediafax news agency quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Dumitrescu's campaign to expose crimes of the Securitate led to a 1999 law governing access to the dreaded secret police's files and the creation of an agency for the study of the Securitate archives.

The National Council for Study of the Securitate Archives was modeled on the Berlin agency that oversees the files of the former East German secret police, the Stasi.

Romania's post-communist domestic security service, however, held back some Securitate files. A draft law championed by Dumitrescu to ban former Securitate agents from public office failed in parliament.

The Securitate ruthlessly quelled dissent for Romania's post-World War II Stalinist rulers. Communist rule ended when dictator Nicolae Ceasescu was toppled and executed in December 1989.

Dumitrescu was born May 27, 1928 in a near the Romanian oil town of Ploiesti. A law student, he was arrested by the Securitate in 1949 and spent much of the next 15 years in prisons and labor camps.

In the 1990s, he went into politics for the centre-right Christian Democratic party and chaired Romania's association of former political prisoners. (dpa)