- Title: ROMANIA: THOUSANDS PAY LAST RESPECTS TO ION CIOABA, 'KING OF THE GYPSIES'
- Date: 26th February 1997
- Summary: SIBIU, ROMANIA (FEBRUARY 26, 1997) 1. LV MOURNERS CARRY "KING" ION CIOABA'S COFFIN 0.27 2. SLV MAN WATCHING FROM TREE 0.32 3. SV MOURNERS (2 SHOTS) 0.49 4. SV CIOABA'S SON FLORIN PUTTING ON HIS FATHER'S BEJEWELLED, SOLID-GOLD CROWN 1.01 5. SV PORTRAIT OF ION CIOABA/ AUDIO FLORIN SAYING: MY FATHER DID HIS BEST TO DEFEND US (ROMA) (3 SHOTS) 1.17 6. SV MOURNERS (2 SHOTS) 1.44 7. LV/SV CORTEGE (5 SHOTS) 2.25 Initials s3, p3 Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 13th March 1997 12:00
- Location: SIBIU, ROMANIA
- Country: Romania
- Reuters ID: LVA4QWT0CJ3TF29YE5Q6XYXC2BD1
- Story Text: INTRO: Thousands of Romanians poured into the centre of Sibiu in the heart of Transylvania for a street festival to pay their last respects to the self-styled "King of the Gypsies".
The body of Ion Cioaba, who died this week aged 62, was carried through the centre of the city aboard an army truck, his open coffin draped in colourful blankets and dominated by a portrait in flowing robes, a sceptre in his hand.
Only a fraction of the crowds filing past pastel-coloured buildings represented Romania's Gypsy community, officially put at 410,000 but said by its leaders to be many times larger.
Thousands of others -- shop assistants, workers at building sites, university technicians in white smocks -- lined the route on the way to Sibiu's vast cemetery.
Cioaba proclaimed himself "King of Romania's Gypsies" in a church ceremony in 1992, three years after the fall of communist rule during which Gypsies were victimised as second-class citizens and parasites.
Like tens of thousands of Gypsies in wartime Romania, run by pro-Hitler fascists, Cioaba was deported to the Nazi-occupied Dnestr region of present-day Moldova. Only one in 10 of the deportees survived.
A variety of businesses enabled him to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the two-storey villa which served as his headquarters, though his influence was challenged by a rival "Emperor of Gypsies Everywhere" living nearby.
"My father did his best to defend us," Cioaba's son Florin, 41, who succeeded him according to Gypsy tradition, told a Pentecostal service in the house's cramped courtyard as he donned his late father's crown made of 24-carat gold coins.
"There are three million of us. We must be united to defend our rights as a minority." "Long live the king(" shouted mourners as a brass band played Frederic Chopin's Funeral March.
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