Secret police shot at Romanian protesters, court documents show

BucharestBucharest- Romania's secret police, and not the army, fired on demonstrators during the revolt that toppled dictator Nicolae Ceausescu nearly two decades ago, court documents showed Wednesday.

A previously unpublished defence ministry report released by the country's top court described how uniformed Securitate members had infiltrated army ranks and opened fire during the protests.

The diary-like description of events covered the period from December 16-22, 1989 when more than 1,000 people died during anti- Ceausescu protests in Bucharest and other cities.

Exact details of events leading up to the dictator's downfall have never been fully disclosed.

Publication of the document was requested by lawyers for former defence minister Victor Atanasie Stanculescu and top army commander Mihai Chitac.

The two men are appealing their conviction and 15-year sentence for ordering the army to fire on demonstrators.

The worst clashes occurred in the west Romanian town of Timisoara to where Caeusescu dispatched Stanculescu with orders to put down the revolt.

Shortly after Ceausescu disappeared on December 22, 1989, it was revealed that the defence minister had joined the rebels, although it was not clear exactly when he changed sides.

Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were sentenced to death by a military court and executed on December 25, 1989. (dpa)