Poland ex-leaders go on trial for declaring martial law

[JURIST] The trial of former Polish leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski [personal website; CNN profile; JURIST news archive] and seven other Communist-era officials charged in connection with the 1981 declaration of martial law [Polish government backgrounder; MP3 audio] resumed Friday in Warsaw. A 500-page indictment accuses Jaruzelski of "organizing crimes of a military nature" and deprivation of freedom through internment, among other offenses. Jaruzelski's lawyers argue that martial law was necessary to prevent the Soviet Union from taking action against the pro-democracy Solidarity movement [official website]. After prosecutors from the Institute of National Remembrance [official website] presented the charges, the court adjourned until September 25, when the defendants are to enter pleas. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage. The Warsaw Business Journal has local coverage.

A Polish appeals court ruling in June cleared the way for Jaruzelski's trial, overturning a lower court decision that halted proceedings [JURIST reports] while prosecutors gathered more evidence against other communist officials. Jaruzelski was previously tried for ordering troops to fire on striking ship workers [BBC report] in the 1970s, but that trial ended without a verdict. About 100 people are said to have died as a result of the martial law declaration and the subsequent arrests of Solidarity leaders, including Lech Walesa [BBC profile], and some 10,000 people were held in internment camps. The prosecutions are part of a plan for "moral renewal" [Washington Post report] pushed by current Polish President Lech Kaczynski [official websites] and his brother, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.