Dan Adamescu’s death followed his incarceration in some of the worst prison conditions in the world and the refusal of medical treatment by the Romanian authorities.
Dan Adamescu died on January 24th, 2017, at the age of 68. It is believed that he died of blood poisoning, but the Romanian authorities continue to refuse to release his autopsy report.
Dan Adamescu’s death followed his detention in horrific conditions in three Romanian prisons: Centrul de Arest Preventiv (CAP), Rahova Prison and Jilava Prison. These prisons have been repeatedly criticised internationally, including by the European Court of Human Rights and human rights organisations.
It is something of an understatement to say that Dan Adamescu was not a well man. Among other conditions he suffered from severe knee arthritis (gonarthrosis) which made him wheelchair bound and required a total knee replacement; ventricular fibrillation and cardiac insufficiency grade IV, both serious heart conditions; auto-immune diseases systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis vulgaris and bullous pemphigoid; and Type II diabetes. In Germany, a country of which he was a citizen, he was considered disabled.
The prisons he was confined to have been found by the ECHR to be unfit for anyone to be kept in, never mind someone with such serious medical needs. One of the prisons had open, squatting toilets, which Adamescu was unable to properly use due to his knee condition and repeatedly fell into. There was also an infestation of beetles, which another inmate said Adamescu was unable to avoid due to his mobility problems.
Denial of adequate medical care
Dan Adamescu was repeatedly refused medical treatment. Despite written requests and his family bringing it to the prison, he was denied his usual medication for 37 days. A worsening of his knee condition and refusals for medical treatment meant he became immobile. The authorities refused repeated requests from Adamescu and his family for release, transfer to a more suitable prison, and transfer to hospital.
Along with the worsening of existing medical conditions, whilst at Rahova Prison Adamescu developed a series of infected wounds. Staff attempted to treat these wounds by draining them in an unsterile environment, without anaesthesia or pain relief, exacerbating the condition. Eventually Adamescu lost consciousness due to widespread infections and was finally rushed to hospital.
Dan Adamescu’s death
It took several months for Adamescu’s condition to stabilise sufficiently to allow him a knee operation. During this time prison guards allowed reporters into his hospital room. Hidden camera footage of the seriously ill, bed ridden, elderly man was broadcast on Romanian television.
At this point, a request for parole was denied on the basis that Dan Adamescu had not completed enough rehabilitation programmes in prison during the period he was physically unable to move from his squalid bed-bunk.
Dan Adamescu’s health continued to deteriorate, and he eventually died on January 24th, 2017. His family believe the cause of Dan Adamescu’s death was septicaemia, but as the Romanian authorities continue to refuse to release the autopsy report this is as yet unconfirmed.
Adamescu’s death, and the failures leading up to it, received widespread condemnation:
- British journalist David Hencke claimed that “Romania’s inhumane prison system led to the tragic death of a campaigning newspaper owner”.
- Willy Fautre, Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers, said Adamescu’s death while in detention “sheds once again some tragic light on the appalling prison conditions [in Romania].”
- Former President of Romania, Traian Basescu, claimed that Dan Adamescu was killed by the “contempt for life of prosecutors and judges”.