Communist militia officer sentenced for pacification of 'Wujek' mine

Roman S., a member of the special platoon of Citizens' Militia was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for taking part in the pacification of the “Wujek” mine in Katowice, southern Poland.

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The massacre in “Wujek” was the deadliest event of the martial law that was imposed in Poland on the night of December 12 and 13, 1981. Nine miners were killed and 21 injured.

The court sentenced Mr S. (name withheld under the Polish privacy law) for seven years behind bars, but the penalty was reduced by half due to the amnesty announced in 1989.

The judge said that the militia’s operation in “Wujek” mine was a combative one and there was no need to conduct it and use firearms. The court stressed that the militia shot to kill. Moreover, those miners who helped others were also targets.

The majority of militia officers who took part in the operation have already been sentenced, but Mr S. had a separate trial, because he had been wanted by a European Arrest Warrant. In May, he was apprehended in Croatia and authorities in Zagreb handed him over to Poland.

The prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) wanted a sentence of 10 years, the attorneys of Mr S. called for his acquittal.

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The convict claimed, in his words before the sentence, that he never shot a bullet at anyone, nor did he shoot in the air. He declared that he is sympathetic with families of the victims. At that time, he was 24 years old.

Lawyers for Mr S. announced that they will appeal this sentence. Members of the strike in “Wujek” mine, who were present at the trial say that the ruling was fair.

Following the imposition of martial law in 1981 and the arrest Jan Ludwiczak, the head of “Wujek” mine’s Solidarity, the miners began the strike. More and more mines joined it, negotiations were unsuccessful.

On December 16, armed militia arrived at “Wujek” mine and begun the pacification of the strike with the use of live ammunition. A total of nine miners were killed and 21 injured.