BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania's president on Friday approved a request to prosecute a former president and prime minister on charges of crimes against humanity for their roles in the country's bloody anti-communist revolution.
President Klaus Iohannis asked the justice minister to proceed with the prosecutions of former President Ion Iliescu and former Premier Petre Roman, as well as former deputy prime minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu.
The three founded the National Salvation Front as Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown on Dec. 22, 1989, and executed three days later together with his wife Elena. Some 1,104 people died in Romania's revolt, the vast majority after Ceausescu's ouster.
Iohannis was responding to an April 2 request from Romania's general prosecutor. His authorization was needed because the events occurred when the three were government officials.
Almost three decades after communism ended, only two generals have been convicted for the revolution deaths, and doubts remain whether the uprising was a true revolution or a military coup.
Military investigators who reopened the file in 2016 said the "new political and military leadership" which took control after Ceausescu's ouster caused the deaths of many people in their bid to maintain power. Prosecutors say that state media broadcast fake news creating a state of panic and some of the evidence relating to the uprising has been destroyed.
Roman, who became Romania's premier during the uprising, called Iohannis' decision "completely unfounded and illogical."
Iliescu, a former high-ranking communist official who came to power as Ceausescu fled, went on to be elected president three times. He has denied having authority over militia and others who shot unarmed demonstrators during the uprising.