Nicu Ceausescu, the son of the late Romanian dictator, was found guilty of aggravated murder Friday

and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.The Bucharest military tribunal decided that Nicu was not guilty of genocide for ordering the shooting of demonstrators during the December 1989 uprising in which his father, Nicolae Ceasusescu, and mother, Elena, were toppled and executed.

Instead the tribunal decided he was guilty of "instigating aggravated murder." Nicu immediately lodged an appeal.

Passing sentence, the chairman of the tribunal said Nicu would also be deprived of citizen's rights, such as the right to vote, for 10 years after finishing his sentence. He was also stripped of his rank as a major in the military reserve.

Nicu, 38, wearing tinted glasses and a checkered jacket, listened with quiet resignation in the courtroom where no more than 30 people, mostly journalists, were assembled.

The sentence was the maximum available for the reduced charge.

Nicu, once renowned as a playboy and heavy drinker, was Communist Party boss in the central town of Sibiu and his father's heir apparent.

During the trial, which began in Sibiu in May, Nicu argued that he had already left the town before shooting erupted Dec. 22 with the loss of 91 civilian lives.

His uncle, Gen. Nicolae Andruta Ceausescu, who ran the secret police training school in Bucharest until December, was convicted of aggravated murder and jailed for 15 years in June.