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Poland prosecutors charge Communist-era leader for imposing martial law

[JURIST] Polish prosecutors on Friday charged General Wojciech Jaruzelski [BBC profile] with "organizing crimes of a military nature" and "carrying out crimes that consisted of the deprivation of freedom through internment" for his imposition of martial law [Polish government backgrounder] in Poland on December 13, 1981. The charges, which prosecutors have been preparing [JURIST report] since late last year, were brought by the Institute of National Remembrance [official website], a government body responsible for looking into Nazi-era and Communist-era crimes. Jaruzelski was previously tried for ordering troops to fire on striking ship workers [BBC report] in the 1970s, but the trial ended without a verdict and a second trial is expected.

About 100 people are said to have died as a result of the declaration of martial law and subsequent arrests of Solidarity movement [official website] leaders, including Lech Walesa [BBC profile], and approximately 10,000 people were held in internment camps during martial law. Jaruzelski has argued that his decision to impose martial law was necessary to maintain order and prevent foreign intervention in Poland. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.

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