Poles hunt killers of former PM

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POLISH police yesterday began hunting for the killers of Piotr Jaroszewicz, the country's former prime minister, and his wife, Alicja Solska, found murdered in their Warsaw home in the early hours of the morning, writes Adrian Bridge.

Jerzy Kirzynski, a police spokesman, said that their bodies had been discovered by one of their sons. Mr Jaroszewicz, still reviled for the way he conducted his premiership between 1970 and 1980, was found hanged and his body bore clear signs of torture. His wife, who worked as a journalist for the Communist Party newspaper, Trybuna Ludu, had been shot with a hunting rifle believed to have been part of her husband's personal collection.

By late yesterday the police were unable to say whether the motive behind the murder had been political revenge or simply robbery. 'We do not know if anything was stolen, so the motive is not yet clear,' said Mr Kirzynski. 'But it was quite macabre. The perpetrator clearly acted with premeditation.'

The sense of shock in Warsaw was palpable. 'A chill went through my bones when I heard the news,' said Adam Bromke, a professor at the Polish Academy of Science. 'We have no tradition of political violence in this country, and I can only hope that this is not the beginning of a new trend.'

But some people did not hide their satisfaction at Mr Jaroszewicz's violent end. One onlooker outside his house yesterday, quoted by the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, described the former leader as 'a bloodsucker who robbed the people blind and lived a life of luxury to the very last'.

As a hardline Communist who rose through the ranks of the Polish army before becoming prime minister under the Communist Party leader Edward Gierek in 1970, Mr Jaroszewicz, 82, certainly made more than his fair share of enemies before he was ousted from power in 1980, and then expelled from the party in 1981.

He was universally condemned for having plunged the country into economic crisis in the 1970s.

'He was deeply disliked and, above all, an incredibly boring politician, a real part of the old system,' said Riszard Holzer, the home news editor of the Zycie Warszawy newspaper. 'But for all that, he did not really deserve to be killed in this way. Nobody is rejoicing.'

Obituary, Page 35

(Photograph omitted)