Polish president decries failure to punish 'communist bandits'
PR dla Zagranicy
President of Poland Andrzej Duda decried the 'shameful' failure of the post-1989 Polish state to punish leading communists as he attended tributes to workers massacred 45 years ago in Gdynia, northern Poland.
President Andrzej Duda (C) lays a wreath at the Monument to the Victims of December 1970 in Gdynia, northern Poland. PAP/Adam Warżawa
At least 44 people were killed and a thousand injured when police and soldiers opened fire on protesting workers in the Baltic city and its environs in December 1970.
Duda said that all “honest, proud Poles” can only feel shame that those responsible, who he described as “communist bandits”, had never been convicted, adding that “the perpetrators of the 1970 crime were buried with full military and state honours.”
“I will do everything so as to repair the Republic, so that it finally becomes a just, fair state,” Duda claimed.
Poland's communist party leader in 1970 Stanisław Kociołek was the focus of a long-running trial in recent years, but he was acquitted in 2013, in spite of the court ruling that the decision to allow the use of firepower was “illegal and criminal.” An appeal was launched but Kociołek died in 2015 before the case could be settled.
The fate of Poland's communist elite remains highly divisive in Poland. The so-salled 'Round Table Talks' that were initiated in 1989 by the communist regime with the pro-democracy Solidarity trade union are hailed by some as the foundations of a bloodless revolution. However, critics of the talks argue that former communists have never been fully brought to account.
Duda was elected in May 2015, and the conservative party to which he had belonged, Law and Justice, won the 25 October general election. The party has a history of attempting to remove former communists and informants to the pre-1989 secret police from public positions in Poland. (nh)