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Dictator's remains?

July 21, 2010

Forensic experts exhumed what are believed to be the remains of the late Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife on Wednesday in an effort to dispel once and for all the mystery of where the Romanian dictator was buried.

Former Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu
Ceausescu's family questions where the leader was buriedImage: AP

The remains of former Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were exhumed from their graves in Bucharest on Wednesday in order to finally confirm their identities.

"I saw the bodies; I recognized his black winter coat with some holes in it. I tend to believe the remains are those of my in-laws, but I cannot be 100 percent sure until the tests are performed," Mircea Oprean, the husband of the Ceausescus' late daughter Zoia, told reporters at the Ghencea cemetery.

"If my wife Zoia had been alive, this would have been the happiest day of her life," he added.

The bodies were reburied after forensic experts took tissue samples for the DNA tests, which are expected to take six months before yielding results of the identities.

Long-running mystery

The original identity request was made by Ceausescu's children over 10 years ago, who doubted that their parents were really buried in the graves with their names on them.

A picture of the executed body of former Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu
The mystery of Ceausescu's remains will soon be solvedImage: picture alliance / dpa

A Bucharest court approved the exhumation back in 2008, but the procedure was repeatedly delayed. Meanwhile, only one of the three Ceausescu children remains alive - son Valentin, who is now 62.

Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were court-martialed and executed on Christmas Day, 1989, by an elite army paratrooper squad at an army base near the town of Targoviste.

After the execution, the bodies were buried without fanfare, giving rise to doubts whether the graves in Bucharest really contained their remains.

Ceausescu was the leader of the Romanian Communist Party from 1965 and the country's president from 1974 until his death.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner