Communist officer accused of shooting at miners in 81 to remain under arrest

Accused of opening fire at miners during the pacification of the “Wujek” coal mine on December 16, 1981, Roman S. (name withheld in line with Polish privacy law), former officer, will remain under arrest, a court decided on Thursday.

“Accused of firing at miners during the pacification of the ‘Wujek’ coal mine at the outset of Martial Law [1981], former member of Motorized Reserves of the Citizens' Militia (ZOMO) Roman S. will remain under arrest,” the court decision reads.

Rejecting the motion to release Mr S., the court found the underlying reason for putting the accused under arrest still valid, namely a high probability of S. having committed the crime. The decision was supported by eye-witnesses’ testimonies, the evidence gathered, and partially by the testimonies of the accused himself.

Mr S. was detained in Croatia on May 17, 2019. According to his attorney, he complied extradition to Poland in June 2019.

The pacification of the “Wujek” coal mine is considered the most appalling tragedy of the period of Martial Law, imposed by the communist regime from December 13, 1981, to July 22, 1983, and then only suspended.

As a result of the pacification carried out by the ZOMO, as many as 9 people were killed and 21 injured. Most of the members of the ZOMO special platoon have already been sentenced, however, a separate suit was brought against Roman S., who was pursued for many years under a European Arrest Warrant until he was finally apprehended in Croatia in May 2019.

S. was accused of committing a communist crime against humanity by repression and violation of human rights. He may face up to 10 years behind bars. The ruling is expected on December 13.

Roman S. “used a life-threatening tool, namely a firearm, fired at [miners of the ‘Wujek’ coal mine] exposing them to immediate risk of loss of life, grievous bodily damage and severe deterioration of health.”

Roman S. left for Germany at the beginning of the 1990s, where he stayed on a permanent basis. He relinquished Polish citizenship and acquired the German one. According to Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), Germany refused to extradite S. The European Arrest Warrant was issued in 2013.