The body of the last minister of defense of the communist regime, Gen. Vasile Milea, was exhumed yesterday upon request from the family. Military prosecutors are searching for further forensic data proving or disproving that he indeed committed suicide, as the official communiquÃ© of the time claimed.
by VASILE SURCEL, COSMIN BABII
Milea and his mother in Mileaâs office, at the Ministry of Defense. The mother never believed the official communiquÃ© stating that her son committed suicide.
Prosecutors Gheorghe Oancea and Vasile Stanca conducted the exhumation procedure in Leresti city, where Milea was buried 15 years ago. The oak coffin was intact, but not so the glass container which held Mileaâs heart in a conservation liquid. At the core of the argument is whether or not Mileaâs heart was touched by the alleged fatal bullet, since conflicting reports of the time exist.
The Forensic Institute jointly with the Institute for Crime Expertise conducted the research upon a prosecutorâs order of April 6. An autopsy of the body was performed once again, and the forensic data will be processed at the Forensic Institute in Bucharest.
The prosecutors restarted to investigate, on March 30 last year, the suicide of Gen. Milea, after a series of articles published by Jurnalul National presented sufficient evidence to cast doubt on the suicide story.
The questions raised then by the daily were those that did not get an answer during the investigation in the early â90s, which arrived at the suicide version. Crucial evidence was missing from the file, testimonies of witnesses contradicted each other, the time of death was not clear, and the proof that the General actually shot himself in the heart was missing. Also, after Jurnalul National published its view on the case
, a good number of people in position to testify on the last moments of Milea volunteered their testimony to the prosecutorâs office.
The reopening of the investigation meant tens of witnesses were questioned, the events were re-enacted, all leads to a possible assassination were followed and finally his body was exhumed. The investigation is on-going, with - unfortunately - many of the possible light-shedding data lost forever.
Short-hand notes of December 17, 1989, show Nicolae Ceausescu was enraged with the conduct of the top officers in the repression ministries. He accused Milea of treason, along the heads of the ministry of domestic affairs and the one of the Securitate intelligence services.
"What did your officers do, Milea? Why they did not fire? They should have targeted the legs (of demonstrators)," asked Ceausescu. "I ordered no ammunition to be dispensed to the military," answered Milea. "I think you all betrayed the interests of the country, of the people and of the socialism and that you did not act responsibly. Do you know what I should do? I should send you all to the firing squad because your acts mean going along our enemy," added Ceausescu, and referring to the three top brass.
The cemetery in Leresti, where Milea had been buried
The night of 21 to 22 December 1989 was the last one for Gen. Milea.
He was summoned in Ceausescuâs office at around 9 p.m., along the heads of the ministry of domestic affairs, of the intelligence services and of the civil guard.
Ceausescu ranted against Milea, "for faulty repression of the demonstration in front of the Intercontinental Hotel." But the head of the civil guard took Mileaâs side showing that six tanks were facing the demonstrators upon orders from Milea. According to Iulian Vlad, head of the Securitate, after that meeting Milea hugged him and, while crying, told him that he was deeply upset by the recent events.
Another meeting followed at 1 a.m., with both Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, during which Ceausescu was satisfied that new military units were summoned to converge upon Bucharest. After that meeting Vlad and Milea talked for tens of minutes, Vlad testified.
Milea felt trampled over because he and the army were used to such ends. Then Milea met with Parcalabescu, head of the civil guard, at around 1:30 a.m., the latter testified.
"He told me he was very tired; I offered him a cup of tea; then he told me that the demonstration could grow into something bigger, and then he was going to take a nap in the office of Ion Coman," told Parcalabescu to prosecutors.
Only that Milea did not take the planned nap.
He picked up the phone and, using the dedicated lines, talked to the Hungarian minister of defense, Ferenc Karpatyi, asking him whether he was reading to invade Romania. Karpathyi answered that he had no such intentions but that the Hungarian army was on notice given the developments in Romania. Milea and Karpathyi were in good personal relations, since Milea took personal care that Karpathyiâs mother, living in Romania, was well taken care of.
The problem with this talk is that it was conducted via the special phone lines destined to link heads of state and government in the communist camp, and that Milea would have needed a specific authorization to open it. Only that he did not ask for that authorization. Of course, since the lines had their hub in Kiev, KGB was also on the line, listening, and so was the Romanian Securitate.
Rumors had it that a further meeting of Milea and Ceausescu took place in the morning, when the latter already had on his desk the transcript of the talk Milea had with Karpathyi during the night. It is also rumored that Ceausescu told Milea "got it right or we will."
Then the alleged suicide ensued.
Questions for the military prosecutors:
Who is to be held accountable for the lack of forensic work on the scene of the alleged suicide?
Which is the exact time of death?
Who lied, of the people testifying they met Milea during his last hours?
Which was the exact sequence of events before Mileaâs death?
Who collected and preserved the forensic data? Where are they now and if they are not to be found, how did they go missing?
Which was the exact position of the pistol and that of Mileaâs body? Could Milea have shot himself given that information?
Who could have shot Milea, of the people on the sixth floor? Who had the motive for that?
Was it possible for Milea to get shot from a building opposite the one he was located in?
Translation : ANCA PADURARU