Nicolae Ceausescu and dictator's wife exhumed in Romania. Why?
Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife – or the bodies of those purported to be the former communist leaders of Romania – were exhumed Wednesday. DNA tests will be done, at the urging of the surviving Ceausescu family, to verify their identities.
Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo/File
Scientists on Wednesday briefly exhumed the remains of former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, from a military cemetery in west Bucharest to take DNA samples and verify their identities.
The couple were shot by firing squad on Christmas Day 1989 after a summary trial. They had been captured trying to flee the country by helicopter. The process, critics say, made the transition of power to the administration of Ion Iliescu a bloody coup rather than a revolution.
The uncertainty about the whereabouts of the bodies stems from the fact that the shooting itself was not filmed, only the mock trial and the bullet-riddled corpses afterwards. And, to add to the confusion, there was a delay in screening the footage of the burial on Romanian television. The burial location was kept secret.
"Like the Romanov family [in Russia], the Ceausescu's were condemned by an ad-hoc trial and summarily executed on Christmas day in a procedure that had all the sophistication of an African tribal court," writes the Adevărul (The Truth), a Bucharest newspaper.