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Former Poland president can be charged for 1981 martial law declaration

[JURIST] The Polish National Remembrance Institute [official website] ruled Tuesday that former Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski [official website, in Polish; BBC profile] and eight former officials can be charged with "Communist crimes" for imposing martial law [Polish government backgrounder] in Poland in 1981. Jaruzelski, now 83, already faces charges [JURIST report] of organizing crimes of a military nature and depriving individuals of freedom in connection with the 1981 decree. About 100 people are said to have died as a result martial law, which also involved the arrests of reformist Solidarity movement [official website] leaders - among them future Polish President Lech Walesa [BBC profile] - and the detentions of some 10,000 others in internment camps. Jaruzelski has argued that his decision to impose martial law was necessary to maintain order and prevent Russian intervention in Poland along the lines of what happened in reformist Czechoslovakia in 1968.

The prosecutions are part of a plan for "moral renewal" [Washington Post report] pushed by current Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski [official websites]. The plan, which has purged police and military intelligence agencies and requires civil servants to disclose whether they served as police informants prior to 1989, has caused divisions among Polish society. UPI has more.

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