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Ex-Polish PM seeks new lawyers

Jaruzelski
Jaruzelski demanded that he choose his own lawyers  


WARSAW, Poland -- Former Polish leader Wojciech Jaruzelski has been given a week to find a new lawyers after his team quit during his trial.

The case over his alleged role in the 1970 massacre of striking shipyard workers, delayed for years due to politics and the ageing general's ill health, was further postponed on Friday by a Polish court.

On Thursday, Jaruzelski's two lawyers abruptly quit in dispute over the indictment.

Although the court said on Friday it had already found replacements, Jaruzelski demanded time to choose his own new counsel.

"I have the right to ask for a deadline to select a new defence attorney," Jaruzelski, 77, told the court.

The court gave him one week and set the next hearing for June 19, apparently to give his new lawyer time to became familiar with the case and its 200 volumes of evidence.

Forty-four workers were killed and more than 1,000 injured while protesting against price increases in the Baltic coast cities of Gdynia, Gdansk, Szczecin and Elblag on December 17, 1970.

Jaruzelski, who was defence minister at the time, has been charged with ordering the military to fire -- a charge he denies.

At the first hearing on Tuesday, Jaruzelski's lawyers complained that the 400-page indictment called for 1,200 witnesses to testify and statements of another 3,200 to be read in court.

They accused the prosecution of unnecessarily trying to drag out the case for years.

A previous effort to try Jaruzelski in Gdansk in 1996 collapsed after he and several others were excluded for health reasons.

In 1999, Poland's Supreme Court ordered a new trial and moved it to Warsaw, where Jaruzelski lives.

Jaruzelski suffers from back and kidney problems, along with high blood pressure.







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