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Martial Law-era coal mine massacre files to go public

PR dla Zagranicy
Jo Harper 23.08.2015 13:54
The criminal case files against policemen accused of shooting miners at two coal mines in southern Poland at the start of Martial Law imposed by the communists to crush Solidarity in 1981 have been passed to the archives of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Katowice.

The communist security police killed nine miners from the Wujek and Manifest Lipcowy mines and dozens were wounded.

The District Court in Katowice has now passed the files to the IPN at the request of the institute, whose role is to investigate crimes against Poles committed by both communist and Nazi regimes.

The files include 102 volumes of the main act and dozens of volumes of attachments and evidence. They include in particular materials from the Garrison Military Prosecutor's Office in Gliwice, which ran investigations from 1981-1982.

"After processing these files will be incorporated into our resources and will be available on the same basis as other documents from the archives of the IPN,” Monika Kobylanska of the IPN in Katowice told the Polish press agency PAP.

The Wujek colliery massacre was an attempt by the communiust authorities to quell the nascent Solidarity-led opposition. Police and the army were sent to the mine in Katowice on 16 December 1981, three days after martial law had been declared.

The forces used against the miners consisted of eight companies of riot police (ZOMO), supported by ORMO (police reservists) and NOMO with seven water cannons, three companies of military infantry fighting vehicles (each of 10 vehicles) and one company of tanks. A commando-type special platoon of ZOMO opened fire at the strikers, killing nine and wounding 21 others. The subsequent repressions included sentencing of three miners to three to four years in prison.

In June 2007 15 former members of the special platoon were sentenced to prison terms for their part in the killings, most sentenced to 2.5 to three years in prison, except for their former platoon commander, Romuald Cieślak, who was sentenced to 11 years. The court however failed to establish who gave orders to send the special platoon to Wujek and thus acquitted the former vice-chief of the communist police in Katowice, Marian Okrutny. (jh/rk)

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