TORUN, Poland — An Interior Ministry general denied Tuesday that he conspired with his deputy to obstruct the investigation into the killing of a pro-Solidarity priest.
Gen. Zenon Platek testified "there was never any talk about coordinating testimony" between him and Col. Adam Pietruszka. The colonel is one of four secret police officers on trial for the October abduction and slaying of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, an outspoken supporter of the outlawed trade union.
Platek, 58, was suspended from duty for failing in the supervision of the four officers, who worked for him in the division that monitors the Roman Catholic Church. The general has not been charged in the case.
In response to a question by a Catholic lawyer representing Popieluszko's family, Platek said he felt no obligation to resign after his subordinates were arrested.
"I fulfilled my duties in accordance with my conscience," Platek said. "I do not see that I have committed any errors."
At his weekly news conference in Warsaw, government spokesman Jerzy Urban supported the Interior Ministry, headed by Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak.
'An Isolated Case' Urban said the priest's killing was "an isolated case of crime burdening only those former Interior Ministry functionaries who are now sitting on the defendants' bench, and is not an argument which would justify the need for a fundamental reconstruction of those organs. In most of the Interior Ministry organs there will be no sensations."
Urban's remarks followed Western press reports that Kiszczak had initiated a major reform effort in the Interior Ministry.
Col. Pietruszka, 47, has pleaded innocent to charges that he instigated the killing and attempted to cover up the crime.
The three other defendants--Capt. Grzegorz Piotrowski, 33, Lt. Waldemar Chmielewski, 29, and Lt. Leszek Pekala, 32--are charged with abducting and murdering Popieluszko near Torun on Oct. 19.
All four face possible death penalties if convicted.
Platek, the highest-ranking official to testify in the 17-day-old trial, rebutted Pietruszka's testimony that Platek ordered him to lie to investigators about when he learned that the car used in the abduction was parked at the Interior Ministry in Warsaw.
He also denied implications by Pietruszka that he ordered the colonel to have the car moved so it would not be seen.