Kiszczak, who helped impose martial law in Poland, dies

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 11:46 AM
Kiszczak, who helped impose martial law in Poland, dies

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, a Polish general and communist-era leader who played a key role in imposing martial law in 1981 but eight years later also took part in talks that allowed for a peaceful transition to democracy, died on Thursday in Warsaw. He was 90.

After Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the nation's top leader at the time, Kiszczak was the most important figure in the crackdown aimed at crushing the pro-democracy Solidarity movement. Martial law included the mass round-up and internment of Solidarity activists, curfews and other harsh measures.

Both men long argued that they acted to stave off a Soviet invasion.

Kiszczak was also the last prime minister of communist Poland, a job he only held for less than three weeks in 1989 before the country's transition to a free-market democracy.

He died on Thursday in Warsaw, according to his family. Jaruzelski died in 2014.

In the quarter century of democratic Poland Kiszczak was tried in court multiple times for his role in imposing martial law, but he never served prison time.

One of the most serious accusations against him is connected to the massacre of nine miners who were shot by riot police in 1981 for protesting martial law. Another 25 were wounded.

At times he was acquitted, at other times found guilty, but he always managed to avoid punishment amid appeals, retrials and the expiration of the statue of limitations.