It was one of his last days in office, and president Illiescu decided to pay one last favor to an old friend.
Miron Cosma is hardly known outside of Romania. “King Coal”, as he’s dubbed sometimes, is a dangerous demagogue, a ruthless criminal, and adored by his followers.
Miron Cosma is a leader of miners. In 1990, he led his men into Bucharest to help President Illiescu solve a problem: protesting students. The miners tore through the city like a natural disaster. They pillaged and ransacked the city as if they were a horde of barbarians. Illiescu thanked them for their patriotic help.
The following year they returned, and this time, it was even worse. For three days, the miners ran amock in the city. The numbers of those killed are not reliable, they range from 7 to 11 to many more. Again, Miron Cosma was praised by no one less than Illiescu.
Cosma tried the same trick again in 1999. This time, with Illiescu in the opposition, it didn’t work.
Cosma took his miners and marched to Bucharest threatening to do the similar things he did in 1990 and 1991. Well, it didn’t work out – Radu Vasile, the PM at that time, met him somewhere at half of the road and calmed him down. And he then asked the Justice to take action. The result: Cosma and the other leaders were imprisoned for some 18 years.
And now Illiescu uses his last (?) presidential pardon to free this man. I’ve seen people choke with rage today. Me, I hope the world takes note of this, and won’t let Illiescu live this one down. It’s probably too much to hope for.