A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Poland ex-leader testifies martial law was 'lesser evil'

[JURIST] Former Polish leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski [personal website; CNN profile; JURIST news archive] testified Thursday at the resumption of his trial that he had no choice but to impose martial law [Polish government backgrounder] on Poland in 1981. Jaruzelski, who is charged with "organizing crimes of a military nature," among other offenses, read from a 200-page statement [Warsaw Business Journal report]:

I constantly state that martial law saved Poland from looming catastrophe. Martial law was evil, but it was a far lesser evil than what would have happened without it.... The hard decision was motivated by a higher necessity.
Jaruzelski testified that he made the decision to prevent the Soviet government from taking action against Poland's pro-democracy Solidarity movement [official website]. Reuters has more. Polskie Radio has local coverage.

Jaruzelski and seven other Communist-era officials went on trial [JURIST report] last month, when prosecutors presented charges in a 500-page indictment. About 100 people are said to have died as a result of the martial law declaration and the subsequent arrests of Solidarity leaders, including now former Polish president Lech Walesa [BBC profile], and some 10,000 people were held in internment camps. Jaruzelski faces 10 years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.