Death Sought in Slaying of Polish Priest : 25-Year Terms Requested for 3 Others in Murder

From Reuters

The prosecution today demanded the death sentence for security police Capt. Grzegorz Piotrowski, who it said organized the kidnaping and murder of pro-Solidarity priest Jerzy Popieluszko.

Sentences of 25 years were sought for Lt. Leszek Pekala and Lt. Waldemar Chmielewski, who admit having taken part in the killing, and for Col. Adam Pietruszka, who denies instigating it.

All four defendants had faced possible death penalties.

Deliberations by the panel of judges hearing the case should last about three days.

Chief Prosecutor Leszek Pietrasinski, summing up on the 22nd day of the trial, asked the court to find the accused guilty on all counts. He also said no higher-ups were involved.

Junior Officers Charged

The three junior officers are charged with the premeditated murder of Popieluszko after he was kidnaped on Oct. 19 and also with attempting to kill him in another attack six days earlier.

Pietruszka, their superior in the Interior Ministry's Religious Affairs Department, is additionally accused of trying to cover up the crime.

Pietrasinski told the court the trial had established that no senior officials of the ministry were involved in the conspiracy against the priest, who was an outspoken supporter of the banned Solidarity free trade union.

He described the 33-year-old Piotrowski as "a cold, cruel criminal who adopted the protective coloring of a chameleon."

Rejecting Pietruszka's denials of involvement, he told the court: "Without Pietruszka's participation, this crime would have been completely impossible."

Packed Courtroom

The tiny, closely guarded courtroom was packed as Pietrasinski and his deputy, Zygmunt Kolacki, made their closing speeches. Kolacki stressed the thoroughness of the investigation into a crime which he said had stunned Polish society.

Popieluszko was kidnaped in a forest near Torun on Oct. 19. His body was found in the River Vistula 11 days later.

Kolacki said the three junior officers "were determined to commit murder, they were sure of their impunity and they did not fear uniformed policemen."

He accused them of taking part in "a rare political provocation directed not only against government authorities but against the social, moral, legal and political principles of the socialist state."

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