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Architect of Poland's communist era martial law Kiszczak dies

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 05.11.2015 16:27
Former Polish interior minister Czesław Kiszczak, one of the key figures behind the imposition of martial law in 1981, has died aged 90.
Photo: PAP/Tadeusz ZagoździńskPhoto: PAP/Tadeusz Zagoździńsk

Kiszczak had been hospitalised in early September, owing to heart problems, and his widow revealed the news of his death on Thursday.

The son of a factory worker, Kiszczak was born in a village in southern Poland in 1925.

He joined Poland's Soviet-backed military police in 1945, after the end of World War II.

Following a rigged general election in 1947, the incoming communist regime held power in Poland for over four decades.

During the 1970s, Kiszczak served as Poland's chief of military intelligence and then counterintelligence.

His role in the imposition of martial law in December 1981 would ultimately see him put on trial, although it was not until over 25 years after the fall of communism that the verdict became binding.

Several thousand people were arrested and imprisoned following the declaration of martial law on 13 December 1981, which came following the anti-regime surge of the Solidarity trade union.

The crackdown lasted until 22 July 1983, with up to 100 fatalities, among them a group of nine striking miners at the Wujek Coal Mine in Katowice, Silesia, who were killed on 16 December 1981.

Kiszczak went on trial together with former communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski, and several other defendants.

However, Jaruzelski was excluded from the case in 2011 owing to poor health (he died in 2014).

A 2012 verdict concluded that Kiszczak was part of a “criminal group” that illegally imposed martial law in a bid to crush the Solidarity trade union.

Kiszczak was given a two-year suspended sentence, which became binding in 2015 after his appeal was rejected.

The former interior minister also participated in the so-called Round Table talks with the democratic opposition of 1989, which were initiated by the communist government.

The talks, held with leading Solidarity activists including union leader Lech Wałęsa, paved the way for the return of democracy to Poland. (nh/rk)

Source: PAP

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