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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » January 26, 2012
Politics & Society
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Martial Law: The Verdict
January 26, 2012   
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Senior communist officials responsible for imposing martial law in Poland Dec. 13, 1981 were members of a “criminal group,” a court in Warsaw ruled Jan. 12.

The court sentenced Gen. Czesław Kiszczak, aged 86, the interior minister in 1981, to four years in prison. However, the sentence was subsequently shortened to two years and suspended for five under a partial amnesty clause.

Stanisław Kania, aged 84, a former first secretary of the Central Committee of the communist Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), was acquitted.

The court discontinued the case against Eugenia Kempara, aged 82, a former member of the State Council in communist Poland, under a statute of limitations.

The parties can still appeal against the verdict.

Kiszczak was found guilty of committing a communist crime as a member of a “criminal group of a military nature” that led to the State Council passing decrees declaring martial law. With the verdict, the court ruled that the decision to declare martial law was illegal.

The trial began in September 2008, with the National Remembrance Institute acting as the prosecution.

Kempara was charged with overstepping her powers when she voted in favor of the decrees declaring martial law. According to the prosecutor, that was in breach of the constitution, because at the time the parliament was in session, which meant the Council was not authorized to pass any decrees.

Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, a former head of the PZPR party as well as prime minister and defense minister in the communist era, was excluded from the case in August 2011. Jaruzelski, now 88, was charged with leadership of the “criminal group” and faced a prison term of up to 10 years, the highest penalty of all the defendants. But he was eventually excluded from the rest of the trial because of poor health. He is receiving chemotherapy to treat his advanced lymphoma cancer and will most likely never stand trial again.

In 1981, Jaruzelski headed the Military Council of National Salvation, a body that exercised full administrative power in Poland throughout martial law, which ended July 22, 1983.
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