Poland’s last communist leader could face up to ten years behind bars after a court ruled legal proceedings against him can go ahead. General Wojciech Jaruzelski is set to stand trial for imposing martial law in 1981 in a crackdown against the opposition Solidarity movement.
Giving the green light for the hearing, the Court of Appeal in Warsaw overturned a lower court’s decision that more evidence was needed. The general maintains he chose the lesser of two evils. If he had not have acted, he argues, Solidarity would have been crushed by Soviet military intervention.
Martial law saw Polish security forces sent onto the streets. Thousands of people were arrested. Up to 100 were killed. But Solidarity survived the crackdown and its leader Lech Walesa went on to become Poland’s president.