Poland ex-leader testifies martial law was 'lesser evil'

[JURIST] Former Polish leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski [personal website; CNN profile; JURIST news archive] testified Thursday at the resumption of his trial that he had no choice but to impose martial law [Polish government backgrounder] on Poland in 1981. Jaruzelski, who is charged with "organizing crimes of a military nature," among other offenses, read from a 200-page statement [Warsaw Business Journal report]:

I constantly state that martial law saved Poland from looming catastrophe. Martial law was evil, but it was a far lesser evil than what would have happened without it.... The hard decision was motivated by a higher necessity.
Jaruzelski testified that he made the decision to prevent the Soviet government from taking action against Poland's pro-democracy Solidarity movement [official website]. Reuters has more. Polskie Radio has local coverage.

Jaruzelski and seven other Communist-era officials went on trial [JURIST report] last month, when prosecutors presented charges in a 500-page indictment. About 100 people are said to have died as a result of the martial law declaration and the subsequent arrests of Solidarity leaders, including now former Polish president Lech Walesa [BBC profile], and some 10,000 people were held in internment camps. Jaruzelski faces 10 years in prison if found guilty of the charges.


 

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