Walesa Links Trial of 3 Unionists to Stalin Era
Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, wearing jeans and a T-shirt bearing the name of the outlawed trade union, testified Monday that three unionists accused of planning an illegal strike are innocent and complained in a statement to Parliament that their trial is “without precedent since the Stalinist era.”
Defendant Adam Michnik, ejected from court three times last week for accusing the judge of being partial, was thrown out again Monday when, with Walesa on the witness stand, he stood up and shouted: “Lech, don’t worry! Solidarity is alive!”
“I told the court that three innocent people are in the dock,” Walesa, who testified for more than an hour, told Western reporters as he left the court. Foreign reporters and the public are barred from the trial.
“There is no civilized country in the world in which one is unable to meet with his friends,” Walesa added.
Michnik, Bogdan Lis and Wladyslaw Frasyniuk are charged with trying to organize a 15-minute national strike in February against government-planned food price increases.
Tape Recording ‘Forged’
Walesa dismissed the credibility of a tape-recorded conversation between Lis and two secret police agents, charging that it was forged.
“Dictatorships resort to such methods,” he said of the tape.
Judge Krzysztof Zieniuk shocked defense lawyers last week when he jeered at Michnik and ordered lawyers and defendants’ relatives searched.
In his statement to Parliament, Walesa said, “We protest against another political trial and escalation of lawlessness in Poland.
“We protest against the brutality of the court, which is without precedence since the Stalinist era,” he added in a reference to the 30-year rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who died in 1953.
Walesa signed the statement as a leader of the outlawed Solidarity trade union.
Walesa Not Arrested
Michnik, Lis and Frasyniuk were arrested Feb. 13 when police broke up a meeting attended by the three defendants and Walesa. Walesa was not arrested, but authorities opened a separate investigation to determine if the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize should be charged with planning to disturb the peace. No charges have yet been filed against Walesa.
“Until the police came in, we were not talking about anything specific since not all the people who were invited had arrived,” Walesa testified, according to a defense lawyer who asked not to be named. “Until that moment we were telling jokes and reporting our stories since we hadn’t seen each other in a long time.”
Walesa said the judge rightly reprimanded him at one point during his testimony when--upon being asked who else he and the defendants expected at the meeting in Walesa’s Gdansk apartment--he snapped: “It was not you we were waiting for.”
Walesa told reporters, “I was unfair and the judge was right to reprimand me.”