MPs are detained by Polish police in the presidential palace

MPs are Detained by Polish Police in the Presidential Palace

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MPs are detained by Polish police in the presidential palace

Hundreds of PiS supporters gathered outside the palace to protest against the arrests. Image: RADEK PIETRUSZKA/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK


MPs are detained by Polish police in the presidential palace.

After leading an anti-corruption office in 2007, Mariusz Kaminski and Maciej Wasik were sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power.

Following the arrests, the new interior minister, Marcin Kierwinski, wrote on X, “Everyone is equal before the law.

” The arrests underscore the political unrest between the Law and Justice (PiS) party and the new pro-EU coalition. Polish police made the arrests inside the presidential palace in Warsaw on a day of unprecedented political theatre.

The men, who were elected PiS MPs in October, refused to accept the court ruling from last month because their 2015 crime was pardoned by President Andrzej Duda, a supporter of the PiS. In addition, Mr. Duda stated that he does not agree with the court’s decision since he believes his pardon is still in effect.

Despite losing their parliamentary mandates, the two, along with President Duda, maintain that their pardon keeps them as legitimately elected members of parliament.

Police were given a warrant by the court on Monday night to hold the men in custody.

In spite of this, Mr. Duda extended an invitation to both of them to attend a ceremony on Tuesday morning at Warsaw’s Presidential Palace when two of their former colleagues were sworn in as presidential advisers.

A few hours later, while still inside the royal premises, they left to give a quick interview to media. “Political prisoners” is what Mr. Kaminski called an arrest, and he hailed Mr. Duda for his assistance.

“We have a very serious state issue on our hands. A desolate autocracy is taking shape,” Mr. Kaminski declared. Then, while the political spectacle played out, they went back inside the palace.

A short while later, Prime Minister Donald Tusk described the situation as “unbelievable” at a press conference.

He advocated for respecting the court’s decision and implied that President Duda was assisting the men in avoiding prosecution.

“This is clearly taking advantage of a situation in which no one will use force against such an institution as the president,” the prime minister and interior minister said.

A few hundred PiS supporters demonstrated outside the palace in support of the men after the arrests.

In 2015, the Polish Supreme Court declared that Mr. Duda’s pardon from 2015 was invalid because it was granted while the men were appealing their conviction, meaning that the original conviction was not final.

Mr. Duda disputes that ruling and maintains that the pardon is still enforceable.

To make things more difficult, decisions in support of Mr. Duda have been made by the Constitutional Tribunal and a newly established Supreme Court chamber that is manned by judges selected by the PiS.

Now that the verdict is known, Mr. Tusk said Mr. Duda might end the impasse by pardoning the men once more. However, that would raise concerns about the initial pardon’s legal standing.

Since taking power last month, Tusk’s coalition has vowed to reverse changes made by PiS to the court, public media, and civil service, which the European Commission and numerous other international organisations claim have weakened Poland’s legal system.

Reforming the state radio, TV, and news agency that PiS had turned into a government propaganda machine was among its first actions.

However, its strategies mirrored those of PiS, starting with the removal of media board members and their replacement by a government minister before to scheduled legislative reform.

As the public media had become “a propaganda mouthpiece” under PiS, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights admitted that PiS had made it legally challenging to reform it.

However, the organisation added that the changes made by the incoming government “raise serious doubts” and that “urgent reform” was necessary.

Former PiS prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that while Mr. Tusk’s administration talked a good game about democratic norms, in reality, they fell far short.

“The rule of law is currently under unprecedented threat. Tusk’s government concluded that it could seize control of the media and public television by force.

Democratic norms have nothing to do with this. Since communism, we have rarely witnessed such ruthless government action.

“It is even more ridiculous that individuals who espouse such pro-democracy slogans are doing this,” Mr. Morawiecki declared.

Numerous supporters of Tusk contend that such claims are the height of hypocrisy, given PiS’s track record of subjugating state institutions while in power.


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