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Poland court issues suspended sentence to communist-era interior minister

The Warsaw Provincial Court handed down a two-year suspended sentence to former interior minister Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak Thursday. The court found Kiszczak guilty in absentia in relation to the implementation of martial law [Polish government backgrounder] in 1981. Martial law was declared on December 13, 1981, by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski [personal website, in Polish], who was declared too sick to stand trial, in an attempt to squelch the Solidarity movement [official website], an opposition group. This caused thousands of people to be illegally detained as well about 100 people to be killed. Kiszczak's sentence will be suspended for five years.

This trial has been going on for more than three years [JURIST report] and involves many of the Polish leaders in 1981, including Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and seven other Communist-era officials. Poland's Constitutional Tribunal [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in March that the 1981 declaration of martial law violated the country's then-governing constitution [text]. The trial hit several snags between 2008 and 2011, with both the death of the presiding judge and Jaruzelski's own failing health having delayed the proceedings for several years.

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