Poland’s former communist leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, has been charged with illegally imposing martial law to crush the Solidarity movement.
The investigation is part of the country’s attempt to come to terms with the decision which remains controversial nearly 25 years on. The case has been brought by Poland’s National Remembrance Institute, which examines communist-era crimes. Some Poles view the declaration of martial law as a crime that led to awidespread violation of human rights. But others say it prevented a Soviet invasion similar to those in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Jaruzelski’s communist government imposed martial law in December 1981, rolling tanks out onto the streets and jailing thousands of dissidents, including Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa. He later oversaw the peaceful democratic revolution in 1989 that brought Solidarity to power and has since largely withdrawn from public life. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years, but given he is 82, many analysts say that is unlikely to happen.