Page last updated at 19:35 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Lech Walesa libel trial starts in Poland over spy claim

Lech Walesa (18/03/2009)
Lech Walesa led the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union, Solidarity

A libel trial has started in Poland over charges former President Lech Walesa once worked as a communist spy.

The court case pits the anti-communist leader against his one-time ally and successor as president, Lech Kaczynski.

The court case was adjourned until 18 December to allow more time for preparation.

Mr Walesa, now 66, is seeking a retraction of a claim made by Mr Kaczynski that he spied for the communist secret service in the 1970s.

He is also seeking 100,000 zloty (24,000 euros; £21,700) in damages.

Neither man was present in the Warsaw court for the start of Mr Walesa's lawsuit.

Denied allegations

"As long as I have a court verdict favourable to me, nobody - not even the head of state - can publicly state that it's not true," Mr Walesa was quoted as telling a Polish television station ahead of the trial.

The former Solidarity leader has always denied he worked as a communist agent, and was cleared of earlier spying allegations by a special court in 2000.

Judges concluded that former SB security service agents had forged documents in his file in a bid to prevent him receiving the Nobel Peace prize in 1983.

Earlier this year he threatened to leave Poland after a second book accused him of being a communist spy as a young man.

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