Alexandru Vişinescu was born on 27 September 1925 in Alden, Romania. As a Lieutenant Colonel of the prison services, Vişinescu was the commander of the Râmnicu Sărat prison from 1956 to 1963, a detention centre for political prisoners until its abolition in 1963. According to accounts of surviving prisoners, Vişinescu regularly beat prisoners for his own personal satisfaction, overworked them and placed them in solitary confinement.
As commander of Râmnicu Sărat prison, Vişinescu allegedly ordered inhuman treatment of prisoners from 1956-1963 included the following: lack of medicines and medical treatment, refusal of transfers to hospital, lack of heating and other inhumane prison conditions, discretionary punishments, physical (beatings and other violence) and mental abuse of detainees, ignoring complaints made by detainees, and causing the deaths of 12 prisoners.
During time spent as commander of the prison in 1956, Vişinescu was accused of using prison inmates as personal servants, even outside of the prison itself. Prisoners were, for example, allegedly ordered to run errands and do other business for him in the city, to fix things around his home and to chop wood. Such practices were witnessed by a Colonel at the Directorate General for Prisons, who ordered small scale administrative measures against Vişinescu. Vişinescu also received a reprimand for abuses of command.
In September 1958, Vişinescu was accused in a formal report by supervisors of favouring one prisoner by speaking to him when not permitted.
Nevertheless, Vişinescu was promoted to the rank of captain on 4 January 1959 and was awarded a medal for outstanding service in the defence of the state and social order.
At the same time, Vişinescu was sent on a six-months training course in order to improve his management skills at Jilava Prison until 3 January 1960, where he met later close co-worker Ion Ficial, who now also faces trial for crimes against humanity.
Still convinced of having political prisoners at his unquestionable mercy, however, Vişinescu continued his ways unchanged.
One prisoner, sentenced to 25 years hard labour, filed an official memorandum in 1961 to announce that he would go on a hunger strike because of the conditions of detention in prison that included beatings, insults, lack of clothing, and hygiene issues, which the prisoner claimed to be against the socialist humanism of Romania’s then communist regime. In response to the memorandum, Vişinescu, as commander of Râmnicu Sărat prison, ordered solitary confinement.
Moreover, when a prison doctor ordered surgery on one prisoner, to remedy injuries due to the severity and sanitary conditions of his imprisonment, Vişinescu ordered and only allowed six days recovery.
Finally, another investigation was launched on 16 December 1963, after the dissolution of Râmnicu Sărat prison in April 1963, which confirmed the full range of offenses ordered and in respective cases committed by Vişinescu during his command of the prison such as illegal connections with former common law prisoners, love affairs with spouses or relatives of detainees, usury, the use of prison staff and detainees for personal purposes, heavy drinking.
Following the findings of the investigation, Vişinescu was obliged to apologize to the ruling communist party. While apologizing, he noted that he did not understand why he had to do so since he served the regime and the regime should protect him.
In 2006, the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) was set up by the Romanian government with a mission to address the crimes of the communist era that governed Romania from 1947 until 1989. After compiling an initial list containing the names of 210 former officials of the communist regime but failing to convince state prosecutors to move forward, in April 2013 the IICCMER submitted a revised list of 35 individuals, including Alexandru Vişinescu, Ion Ficior, Iuliu Sebestyen (now deceased) and Florian Cormoş.
The trial against Vişinescu began before the Supreme Court of Romania on 24 September 2014 for crimes against humanity committed in his capacity as chief security officer and commander of Râmnicu Sărat prison from 1956 to 1963. Vişinescu is the first officer of the communist regime to be tried since its fall.