Page 2, 23rd November 1984

23rd November 1984
Page 2
Page 2, 23rd November 1984 — Polish crackdown initiated

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Locations: Wroclaw, Cracow, Gniezno, Warsaw


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Polish crackdown initiated

MURDERED POLISH priest Fr Jerzy Popieluszko was buried on November 3, but questions remained about the forces behind his killing, despite the fact that three Polish security police reportedly confessed to the crime.

Also in the aftermath a the murder, Lech Walesa, founder of the outlawed trade union. Solidarity and Polish Primate Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw and Gniezno have called for new talks involving the Church, the government and the Polish opposition groups.

Fr Popieluszko's murder also prompted the establishment of three human rights groups in 'olend that pledged to monitor and publish „information on human rights abuses. The groups, formed in the cities of Warsaw, Cracow and Wroclaw, also vowed to offer legal, financial and medical help to victims of the abuses.

The Warsaw group included Janusz Onyszkiewicz and three other prominent former members of the Workers Defence Committee (KOR), which advised Solidarity before

it was outlawed under Poland's martial law crackdown in December 1981.

On November 12 the Warsaw group issued a founding document that said the priest's slaying was only the latest in a series of "mysterious murders, beatings and abductions" that the Polish press had failed to publicise.

"Every possible attempt to block our work through successive acts of violence and repression will only constitute yet more proof that protectors of banditry continue to operate within the apparatus of power and security," the document said.

The Polish government reportedly fears the reestablishment of another KORtype group and has declared that the human rights groups cannot legally exist.

The Polish government's November 6 announcement of the confessions was coupled with a pledge that its investigation was entering a new phase "aimed at revealing the motives which guided the killers, the background to the act and its Concern is being voiced over the future of outspoken Catholic priest Fr Stanislaw Malkowski. Polish Government spokesman, Jerzy Urban, launched a vicious attack on Fr Malkowski last week on the pages of the party paper Tu I Teraz. Polish sources expressthe opinion that the press attack on Fr Malkowski shows newly-found confidence on the part of the authorities, who obviously feel that their claims of non-implication in the killing of Fr Popieluszko have gained sufficient public acceptance. The authorities' confidence has been further reinforced by the low-key approach taken by Cardinal Glemp and Lech Walesa, say the sources.

possible instigators."

Three days later, Onyszkiewicz said that a government power struggle was behind the murder.

In an interview with two Italian newspapers, he throrised that the killing was part of a conspiracy aimed at weakening the positions of Polish leader Gen Wojciech Jaruzelski and Interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak.

He said that Kiszczak, a close ally of Jaruzelski, was regarded as a "foreign body in the structure of the Interior Ministry."

"He (Kiszczak) is an army general, with a background in military counter-espionage, so for a long time he was avowed enemy of the security forces which he now finds himself directing," said Onyszkiewicz.

The three men charged with the priest's murder — Capt. Grzegorz Piotrowski, 32, and his two lieutenants, Waldemar Chmielewski and Leszek Pekala — reportedly worked in an Interior Ministry department that monitors religious affairs and ethnic minority groups.

They had been arrested on October 24 and charged with kidnapping Fr Popieluszko, who disappeared on October 19 and whose body Was found on October 30 in a frozen Vistula Ruver reservoir.

According to a report issued by Kiszczak, the three had admitted they overpowered the priest and threw him into the trunk of their car. They were also quoted as saying Fr Popieluszko was bound and "did not show any signs of life" when they threw him into the reservoir.

Two other Interior Ministry officials were Col. Adam Pietruszka, who has been charge with "aiding and abetting" the kidnappers, and Gen. Zenon Platek, who has been suspended from duty for lack of supervision over his subordinates.

The slain priest had been investigated by the government in recent months for possible abuse of religious freedom, and in September the Polish weekly magazine Tu I Teraz (Here and Now) had referred to his Masses as "rabid political sessions."

After the priest's murder, all talks between Ppland's government and Catholic Church on matters of mutual concern were frozen, according to one newspaper.

But at Fr Popieluszko's funeral, which was attended by an estimated 200,000 mourners, Cardinal Glemp issued a call for dialogue in his eulogy to the slain priest.

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