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Polish court convicts 15 police in 1981 deaths of protesting miners

WARSAW, Poland (AP) - A court Thursday convicted 15 police officers of shooting to death nine miners who were protesting a Communist crackdown on the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1981.

The decision drew loud applause from the packed courtroom in the southern mining center of Katowice. Many of those in court sang the Polish national anthem, despite calls from Judge Monika Sliwinska for order.

The court ruled that police division leader Romuald Cieslak gave the order to open fire on miners during protests at the Wujek and Manifest Lipcowy mines in December 1981, killing nine miners and wounding 25.

In a nationally televised ruling, Sliwinska called the trial ``one of the most difficult ... and painful'' stemming from 18 months of martial law, during which 100 people were killed.

She added that despite the verdict, ``all of the mechanisms and decisions taken on the use of firearms against striking miners will probably never be fully clarified.''

The miners were demonstrating against the government's imposition of martial law, a crackdown aimed at crushing the Solidarity movement.

The court sentenced Cieslak to 11 years in prison, and declared the shooting a ``Communist crime.'' Twelve police officers under his command received 2-year sentences for opening fire, while two others received three-year sentences.

However, the court found deputy commander Marian Okrutny innocent, and dropped charges against one other policemen.

The verdict is open to appeal.

The victims of the shooting were among several hundred workers who barricaded themselves in the mines to protest the crackdown and the jailing of Solidarity union leaders. They were the first of the 100 fatalities in the period of martial law that ended in July 1983.

It was the third trial of the former police officers for the 1981 shooting in a case that has run 14 years. A regional court acquitted the officers in 1997 and 2001, but an appeals court overturned both verdicts on procedural grounds.

The officers argued that they fired over the protesters' heads and that army troops who also were present may have been responsible for the deaths and injuries.


Re: Polish court convicts 15 police in 1981 deaths of protesting miners

Shame Poland can't dig a few bodies up and try them as well, must be a few dead people that missed getting charged, I know try their children

Re: Polish court convicts 15 police in 1981 deaths of protesting miners

It seems to be in a state of paranoia like mccarthyism in the states.

Re: Polish court convicts 15 police in 1981 deaths of protesting miners

Ania......."mccarthyism" has been dead for fifty years

Re: Polish court convicts 15 police in 1981 deaths of protesting miners

These people were just following orders and the system they were living under. Putting them in prison 26 years later is just plain stupid.

Re: Polish court convicts 15 police in 1981 deaths of protesting miners

"Ania......."mccarthyism" has been dead for fifty years "

Mike I didn't feel the need to point that out as assumed everyone knows it was in the late forties/fifties