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article imageHandwriting proves Poland's Walesa helped secret police: prosecutors

By Michel Viatteau (AFP)     Jan 31, 2017 in World

Polish prosecutors on Tuesday said handwriting analysis proves that Solidarity freedom hero Lech Walesa collaborated with the communist-era secret police in the early 1970s.

The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which prosecutes crimes from the Nazi occupation and the communist era, said the former president and Nobel Peace laureate had signed a collaboration agreement and receipts for payment from the secret police.

There is "no longer any doubt" that the 73-year-old collaborated, IPN official Andrzej Pozorski told reporters.

Walesa, who co-founded the independent Solidarity trade union and then negotiated a bloodless end to communism in Poland in 1989, has been dogged by the allegations for years and has always denied them.

He did not react Tuesday as he was on his way to a Nobel gathering in Bogota, but his representative, lawyer Jan Widacki, told the Polsat News channel that "the case is not closed today" and said they may ask for a new handwriting analysis.

Walesa also reiterated that the accusations were a "lie" on Saturday, after local media leaked the IPN's latest conclusions.

Pozorski said the authenticity of the secret police files, which include Walesa's alleged codename "Bolek", was determined by forensic experts in the southern city of Krakow.

The experts compared the files to other handwritten documents such as Walesa's applications for a passport, identity card and driving licence. Walesa had refused to submit handwriting samples.

Pozorski said the collaboration agreement believed to be Walesa's dates back to December 1970, while the 17 payment receipts totalling 11,700 zloty -- the equivalent of five months of average earnings at the time -- span 1971-1974.

He said that "Bolek" also submitted 29 handwritten reports to the secret police.

- Historic role -

A special vetting court ruled in 2000 that there was no basis to suspicions that Walesa had been a paid regime agent.

But the allegations against him resurfaced last year after the IPN seized previously unknown secret police files from the widow of a communist-era interior minister.

Walesa enigmatically admitted last year to having "made a mistake" and in the past said he signed "a paper" for the secret police during one of his many interrogations.

Investigators have pored over communist-era files to probe Walesa's role
Investigators have pored over communist-era files to probe Walesa's role

A book published by the IPN in 2008 alleged that while the regime registered Walesa as a secret agent in December 1970, he was cut loose in June 1976 due to his "unwillingness to cooperate".

IPN head Jaroslaw Szarek for his part wondered whether the existence of the files could have influenced certain choices made by Walesa while he led Solidarity and even after the fall of communism, when he was Polish president in 1990-1995.

"This remains an open question," Szarek told reporters on Tuesday, while adding that the IPN "had no intention to erase Walesa from Polish history".

Amid the renewed allegations, many Walesa supporters and even some of his enemies and independent historians have said that the claims will not reduce the historic role he played.

Poles in general have mixed feelings about Walesa. His boldness in standing up to the communist regime is still widely respected, but the combative and divisive tone of his later presidency earned him scorn in many quarters.

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