Ceausescu Execution Video Faked, Experts Say
BORDEAUX, France (AP) _ A Romanian government videotape purporting to show the execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, is faked in part, forensic experts here believe.
After examining a 90-minute tape shown last week on French television, the scientists doubt the official claim that the couple was killed by firing squad. Instead, they say the couple was apparently killed hours earlier with gunshots to the head.
The Communist dictator and his wife were tried and executed Dec. 25.
Dr. Loic le Ribault, director of a private criminal science laboratory in Bordeaux, said Sunday that the only signs of fatal wounds on the bodies were in the right temples, indicating the Ceausescus had been shot in the head.
In the tape, the Ceausescus, hands tied behind their backs, appear in the video to have been gunned down with automatic weapons. But the camera angle is too low and the lens is obscured by gunsmoke, preventing a clear look at the couple being shot, experts say.
Later footage shows a medic checking Mrs. Ceausescu for signs of life as she lies in a stream of blood pouring from a wound in her head.
Le Ribault and others say the state of the bodies show the Ceausescus died hours before the medic checked them. The corpses were stiff with rigor mortis, and there was virtually no sign of blood on Nicolae Ceausescu.
Also, the bullet holes on the brick wall behind the couple are too low for a firing squad theoretically aiming at the chest, le Ribault said.
″It’s technically impossible that this film was made immediately after the death of the Ceausescus,″ said le Ribault. ″The fusilade ... is a simulation made solely for the camera.″
He suggested the couple was killed by pistol shots to the head, perhaps while on their knees, then brought to the wall to make it appear as if they were killed by the firing squad.
The Sun of Baltimore said Sunday that some Romanian specialists believe the Ceausescus were killed by coup plotters who moved ahead their plans when the popular revolt broke out.
″There was a plot to overthrow Ceausescu,″ it quoted Pierre Hassner, a specialist on Eastern Europe at the Center of International Study and Research in Paris, as saying. ″There was also a movement from below,″ he said, referring to the popular uprising.
Guy Nicolas, another forensic scientist working for the French criminal courts, said the evidence of a prior execution is not conclusive.
″I don’t think we can draw any definitive conclusions from such mediocre images,″ he said.
The director of Free Romanian Television, Razvan Theodorescu, defended the authenticity of the tape and called it a historic document.
″I don’t believe this was a simulation; I don’t believe this was a set up,″ said Theodorescu, who was in Paris last week to settle a dispute over rights to the videotape.
Gelu Voican, now Romanian vice prime minister, ran the court that sentenced the Ceausescus. He is running in elections set for May 20, and there has been speculation he released the tape in an effort to buttress his campaign.
The legal dispute over the tape never reached a court. The settlement gave the French network TF-1, Romanian TV, and middleman Paul-Loup Sulitzer cuts of future profits from its use.