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Polish prosecutors prepare charges against Communist-era leader for martial law decree

[JURIST] Polish prosecutors said Tuesday that they are preparing charges against General Wojciech Jaruzelski [BBC profile], the last Communist leader of Poland, in connection with his December 13, 1981 declaration of martial law [Polish government backgrounder] in the country. Prosecutors associated with the National Institute of Remembrance [official website] argue that the declaration was unconstitutonal, and say that charges related to harassment, internment, and the deaths of over 100 people as a result of ther declaration could be laid early in the new year. Jaruzelski, now 82, has long argued that his declaration clamping down on opposition and dissent after agitation by the Solidarity movement [official website] and other anti-government groups pre-empted an invasion by Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces [Radio Prague backgrounder] such as occured in Czechoslovakia after the "Prague Spring" of 1968. In 2001 Jaruzelski was put on trial for ordering trrops to fire on striking shipyard workers [BBC report] in 1970 when he was defense minister, but the proceeding stalled and he faces a second trial at an unspecified date. Radio Polonia, the Polish external service, offers local coverage of the martial law anniversary [MP3 audio]. AP has more.

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