Communist-era judge wanted by Poland dies in Sweden at 91

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Communist-era judge Stefan Michnik, whose extradition Poland had sought over the death sentences he handed down in the early 1950s, has died in Sweden at 91.

The news came from an obit that his half-brother, Adam Michnik, the editor-in-chief of Poland’s liberal Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, placed Friday.

Sweden twice refused to extradite Michnik since the turn of the century, saying the statute of limitations had expired on the death and prison term sentences that Michnik’s panels of the military court had given Polish freedom and anti-communist fighters after World War II.

Poland protested the refusals, arguing that in 1952-53 when they were given, the death sentences qualified as crimes against humanity. Poland also argued that the nation’s wartime heroes of anti-Nazi resistance and fighters against the imposed, oppressive communist regime were sentenced on trumped-up charges and false evidence.

Michnik quit the military court for other jobs in 1953 and left Poland in 1969, following an anti-Semitic purge. He settled in Sweden and became a citizen there.

He died on Tuesday, the obit said.

His half-brother on his mother’s side, Adam Michnik, was a prominent anti-communist dissident in Poland who was sent to prison under the regime. He also served as a key adviser to the pro-democracy Solidarity movement in the 1980s.

Co-founded by Adam Michnik, the Gazeta Wyborcza daily has been a strong critic of the right-wing governments that wanted to bring Stefan Michnik to Poland and put him on trial.

In the obit, Adam Michnik said his brother had “suffered a lot on my account, but not because of any fault of mine.”

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