Gen. Nicolae Plesita, 80, a die-hard communist and ruthless chief of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's Securitate secret police, has died.

He arranged shelter in Romania for terrorist Carlos the Jackal and was tried for the bombing of Radio Free Europe, being found not guilty.

He died Monday in Bucharest in a Romanian Intelligence Service hospital, where he was being treated for illnesses including diabetes, the Agerpres and Mediafax news agencies reported.

He commanded the Securitate's foreign intelligence service from 1980 to 1984 and gained notoriety for his contacts with Venezuelan-born international terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal.

Ramirez was hired by the Securitate on orders of Ceausescu to assassinate Romanian dissidents in France and bomb the Radio Free Europe offices in Munich in 1981. Nine people were injured in the attack on the radio station, which broadcast into then-communist Eastern Europe.

In 1998, Plesita told court prosecutors that Ceausescu had ordered him to find temporary shelter for Ramirez in Romania after the bombing.

After the 1989 revolt, the general faced a military trial in Romania for being an accomplice in the Radio Free Europe attack. The trial was interrupted several times and he was found not guilty earlier this year.

In postcommunist Romania, he continued to attract attention with revelations from the communist period, and showed no remorse. - AP