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Romanian Resistance Fighter Rizea Dies

October 7, 2003 GMT

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Elisabeta Rizea, an anti-communist resistance fighter whose defiance of the regime made her a symbol of Romania’s fight against tyranny, died Monday. She was 91.

Rizea died in the southern city of Pitesti, said Constantin Ticu Dumitrescu, another well-known anti-communist.

``She suffered torture ... of communist prisons, and she came out victorious with a great understanding for people,″ said former President Emil Constantinescu in a statement.

After the communists came to power in 1945, she joined an anti-communist resistance group in the Fagaras mountains, providing them with food and money.

Seized by Romanian militia in the summer of 1949, she was sentenced to seven years in prison for ``aiding criminals.″

After the 1961 arrest of the famous anti-communist leader, Gheorghe Arsenescu, she was sentenced to an additional 25 years but was pardoned three years later under terms of a general amnesty.

After communism’s fall in 1989, details of her story emerged in Romanian newspapers and films about the communist era.

``When these wretched communists came to power they took everything from us, the land, the wooden carts _ the hair off our heads,″ she told reporters in 2001, during a visit to her home by Michael, the former king of Romania. ``Still, what they could not take was our soul.″

Talking at another time about the torture she suffered, she related how she was hung up by her hair from a hook, in failed attempts to make her betray her comrades.

``After they took the table from under my feet, they started to beat me with a stick until I bled,″ Rizea said. ``They broke some ribs, and I fainted.″

There was no word on survivors, or when the funeral would be held.