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Lawyer Pleads for Life of Police Officer

January 31, 1985

TORUN, Poland (AP) _ The lawyer for a secret police captain charged in the kidnapping and killing of a pro-Solidarity priest pleaded for his client’s life Thursday, saying no one would benefit if Capt. Grzegorz Piotrowski received the death penalty.

Lawyers for two other secret policemen charged with the October slaying of the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko also said the prison terms demanded by prosecutors were too harsh.

Arguments by lawyers for Col. Adam Pietruszka, 47, charged with aiding the other officers, were postponed for four days because one of the lawyers fainted shortly before beginning her closing argument.

The chief government prosecutor has demanded the death penalty for Piotrowski, 33, whom he accused of kidnapping and murdering Popieluszko ″with ruthlessness and cruelty.″ He asked that Lts. Waldemar Chmielewski, 29, and Leszek Pekala, 32, and Pietruszka each receive 25-year sentences.

If found guilty, each faces a minimum sentence of eight years, and all four could receive the death penalty.

Janusz Ilasz, Piotrowski’s lawyer, argued that his client should be found guilty of manslaughter because the prosecution had failed to prove he intended to murder Popieluszko. Manslaughter carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

Popieluszko was an outspoken supporter of the now-outlawed union Solidarity, the only independent trade union in the Soviet bloc. His kidnap and murder shocked this largely Roman Catholic country and prompted a rare public trial of government security officials.

Authorities issued 10 passes to Western correspondents to attend the trial but denied access to The Associated Press. Reporters in the courtroom provided the AP with their notes. The Associated Press has protested its exclusion.

Ilasz said his client had shown ″genuine grief and remorse″ and should not be put to death because there is ″every hope that Piotrowski can be rehabilitated.″

″We should ask whether this punishment is humanitarian and the answer should be no,″ said Ilasz. ″There is no need for Piotrowski’s head.″

Ilasz denied suggestions by a Roman Catholic lawyer that the killing of the priest was instigated outside Poland. ″Some people shout that the CIA is responsible, others through Radio Free Europe that it was the KGB,″ said Ilasz, waving his hands and shouting.

Jan Olszewski, a lawyer who represents the slain priest’s family, suggested to the court on Wednesday that Popieluszko’s killers were acting in the interest of a foreign power that wanted to provoke a violent conflict between Polish authorities and society.

However, Ilasz said: ″The only higher-up involved was Pietruszka. Only Pietruszka had an interest in this.″

Ilasz portrayed Pietruszka as ″a consummate political player″ who encouraged his three subordinates to attack Popieluszko because he wanted to take over the directorship of the Interior Ministry department that monitors religious affairs.

Lawyers for Chmielewski and Pekala said their clients should receive reduced sentences because they never intended to kill Popieluszko and acted under the influence of their immediate superiors.

Chmielewski’s lawyer, Zygmunt Pubanc, said his client ″was cheated into believing that this was a legitimate operation which had the approval of his superiors.″

Eugeniusz Graczyk, the attorney for Pekala, said the two lieutenants were ″merely tools in the hands of Piotrowski and Pietruszka.″

″It was Piotrowski who was reponsible for the greatest tragedy in Pekala’s life,″ said Graczyk. ″He (Pekala) will never be the same person again.″

The delay caused by the lawyer’s fainting is expected to prevent judges from reaching a verdict until at least the end of next week. The judges are expected to deliberate for up to three days after hearing the summation from

The condition of Pietruszka’s lawyer, Barbara Marczuk, was not known. Pietruszka’s attorneys and final statements from the defendants.

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