Friday, April 27, 2001

News from Poland
All the important news
since 21 April 2001
Wojtek Kość

Controversy surrounds Moskal and Nowak-Jeziorański

Chairman of American Polonia CongressView today's updated headlines from Poland
Edward Moskal caused a scandal on Friday, 20 April when he said that Jan Nowak-Jeziorański was a Nazi collaborator. It has long been known that Nowak-Jeziorański lost a libel lawsuit that he filed against a Nazi official who identified him as an employee of German authorities in occupied Poland. "Nowak-Jeziorański simply worked for the Nazis as a trustworthy and loyal manager of seized Jewish property," wrote Moskal.

Nowak-Jeziorański is a respected Polish figure, who, during the Second World War, sneaked from Poland to unoccupied Europe with information on the situation in Poland. In fact, not to evoke German suspicion, he was also an employee of the German authorities' office in Warsaw. After the war, he was the director of the Polish section of Münich-based Radio Free Europe.

Edward Moskal's statement caused quite a stir among Polish politicians. The scandal broke at the onset of the Second Meeting of Polonia and Poles from Abroad, which is set to take place in Warsaw this week.

"I am outraged by Mr Moskal's statement," said President Aleksander Kwaśniewski. "I co-operated with Jan Nowak-Jeziorański during Poland's efforts to join NATO and to spread a good opinion about Poland in the US, as well as in our attempts to establish good relations with American Jewish organizations," added Kwaśniewski. The President has stressed this co-operation was never hindered by the fact that Nowak-Jeziorański came from the opposite political camp.

Edward Moskal is to be one of the guests at the Second Meeting of Polonia and Poles from Abroad, where he is scheduled to speak on behalf of the Polish Diaspora. Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Władysław Bartoszewski withdrew from the meeting in protest.

"Mr Moskal, through his statements, clearly shows that the American Polonia Congress does not understand Polish affairs and does not serve our country's interests," said Freedom Union Chairman Bronisław Geremek. "It's a pity that Polish-style politics aim at imputations and taunts," said Social Democrat leader Leszek Miller.

Edward Moskal arrived in Warsaw on Thursday, 26 April. At the airport, he was welcomed by Andrzej Stelmachowski, chief of Wspólnota Polska (Polish Community) and Reverend Henryk Jankowski, a Catholic priest from Gdańsk, known for his extreme right-wing and often anti-Semitic beliefs. Both Stelmachowski and Jankowski defended Moskal.

"It does sometimes happen that Moskal puts certain issues in a way that's hard to accept, but one has to know that there's a mighty organisation behind him," said Stelmachowski. He also said that the controversy around Moskal and Nowak-Jeziorański is an "internal affair" of the Polonia circles.

Nuclear secrets

Last weekend, under tight security, a top-secret train, "Oklahoma," travelled across Poland along a top secret route to the Czech town of Temelín, carrying 23 tons of uranium for the Temelín nuclear plant.

The Polish Atom Agency, which assured the fuel was hardly radioactive, approved the train's journey. According to unofficial information gathered by the daily Rzeczpospolita, however, the German authorities did not authorise the train to travel through Germany.

The uranium cargo was shipped to Poland from the United States then was loaded on the train, which, in turn, was shielded by railway security services and border guards and escorted by police cars and a helicopter. The Polish Atom Agency's chairman told Radio Szczecin that the uranium was not radioactive and that Poland could not refuse Czechs its transportation, due to international treaties signed by the Polish government.

Authorities at Szczecin were outraged that the whole undertaking was kept secret. "I understand there are secret issues, but in such a case when the security of people is involved, the authorities should have been informed about the cargo. We alerted city services in case of any emergency," said Szczecin President Koćmiel in an interview for Rzeczpospolita daily. Koćmiel also sent a letter to Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, demanding explanations why the potentially dangerous transport was a mystery and asking why "cargo that is dangerous for German citizens is transported through Poland."

As could have been predicted, ecologists protested against "Oklahoma." "Such transport is an effect of politically stronger and richer European countries' taking advantage of our weaker position," said Aleksander Nieczajew, head of Academic Inspectorate of Nature Protection Guard in Szczecin. "If there are any more trains like that, we'll have no other choice but to chain ourselves to the tracks."

At the Międzylesie-Lichkov border crossing between Poland and the Czech Republic, two angry mayors of Czech border communities waited for the train, as they had not been warned about the cargo. Czech Greenpeace wants the routes of similar trains be revealed in the future.

"From the security's point of view, the fewer people know about such cargo, the better. Szczecin's president referred to the train as if it were carrying burnt nuclear fuel, which recently took place in France and Germany and caused ecologists to protest. But this is a wholly different issue," said Witold Łada, deputy head of the Polish Atom Agency, in an interview for Gazeta Wyborcza on Monday 23 April. When asked whether there might be a problem of burnt nuclear fuel's transportation from Temelín through Poland, Łada responded, "If anything, this problem will occur in several years' time. He added, "It is possible that Czech authorities would decide to store burnt fuel on their own territory."

Wojtek Kość, 27 April 2001

Sunday, April 22, 2001

Who Killed the Former Minister?

The Warsaw Voice
22 Apr 01


Jacek Dębski, former head of the Office for Sports and Tourism (UKFiT), was murdered the night of April 11 and 12 in Warsaw's Praga district. Dębski was shot once. The police have no doubt it was an execution, but the motive behind the killing is as yet unknown.

One hypothesis is that Dębski fell into debt with the underworld, failed to repay what he owed, and threatened them with the State Protection Office (UOP). An investigation team has been set up by the police Commander in Chief Jan Michna to find the killer or killers.

The end of the road:
Miedzeszyński Street near Casa Nostra restaurant

The former sports minister died in the early hours April 12 in hospital on Szaserуw Street from a shot to the head. The previous evening he had been at the Casa Nostra restaurant on Wał Miedzeszyński Street. He arrived there from the Victoria Hotel, accompanied by prominent sports journalists Janusz Atlas, a businessman from Łуdź and a woman known as Inka.

One version of events suggests that at around 10:30 p.m. Dębski's mobile phone rang, and he excused himself and left. The police believe it was someone known to Dębski, as he had no fears about leaving the restaurant. According to another version, the former minister was enticed outside by Inka. The killer appeared close to Casa Nostra. Probably only one shot was fired. The killer could not miss, as the shot was fired from very close range, and the bullet lodged itself in the brain. The police found a shell from a Parabellum 9-mm caliber weapon nearby.

The critically injured Dębski collapsed near Poniatowski Bridge. At first, police announced that he was found by passersby. Later it transpired that his fellow guests at the restaurant came running out at the sound of the shot and called for an ambulance.

The police questioned the owners and all the guests of Casa Nostra. April 12 in the afternoon, the woman who had left the restaurant with Dębski and disappeared immediately after the murder turned up at the prosecutor's office. Halina G., or Inka, as she prefers to be known, is, according to police, the only eyewitness in the case. At first she was put into custody for 48 hours, and following her ambiguous evidence, the prosecutor has ordered her to be arrested for an additional three months. She has been accused of "failing to report a crime," which carries a three-year jail sentence.

The 25-year-old attractive woman, formerly known to the police as a call-girl, had been on intimate terms with Dębski for several weeks. The police and prosecutor are now concentrating their efforts on her. Questioned by different police teams, she gave different evidence. Once she said she had been so drunk that she didn't remember anything, while later she said she saw the moment of the crime, but was not able to give any details.

The most important aim in the case, which is being investigated by the Warsaw police and the Central Bureau of Investigation, is to find the motive for the killing. The police rule out the possibility of it being a politically motivated murder. According to the leader of the investigation, in such as case the killing would have been carried out by a professional killer, who would not leave a shell behind. In addition, he would have made sure the victim was dead and would not have left a witness behind.

It seems most likely that Dębski was in contact with the underworld. He did not work, and allegedly lived off the proceeds from mediating in large transactions. He often appeared together with people with criminal pasts.

It is alleged that Dębski most frequently did business together with his friend, Bolesław K., known as Bolo, a well-known sponsor of the Olimpia Poznań sports club. Bolesław K. is known as the "Wielkopolska plastic king," since he made his fortune on plastic production. He is also known for his criminal past. In 1997 police found part of the loot from a bank raid in Kołbaskowo in his house. He was also at the center of attention from the police during an investigation into corruption in the Poznań police.

Dębski was also in contact with a distant relation of his wife, Vienna resident Jeremiasz B., known as Baranina. He is believed to be the leader of the Polish drug mafia and a representative of South American drug cartels. The police do not believe, however, that Jeremiasz B. ordered the killing.

As head of UKFiT, Dębski shot to fame for his decisive approach in the conflict with the board of the Polish Soccer Association. His actions, known then as the "soccer war," led to changes in the fossilized structures of the association and the resignation of the organization's long-time president, Marian Dziurowicz. Dębski was popular for this among soccer fans, and was also one of the most popular Polish politicians. At one point he was third on the list of Poland's most trusted public figures.

His political career came to an end with an unresolved issue of alleged political blackmail. In an interview in February 2000 with Gazeta Wyborcza daily, Dębski accused an important Solidarity Election Action (AWS) politician of trying to persuade him to find compromising material on President Aleksander Kwaśniewski. This material was supposed to reside in the files of UKFiT, as Kwaśniewski had been head of the office many years earlier.

Dębski claimed that the AWS politician he mentioned had blackmailed him, saying that "If you do not find this information, we will find some about you." It is not clear what information was used to blackmail the sports minister, although it could have been something pointing to collaboration with the communist security services. Dębski never revealed who had ordered him to look for information about the president. When the interview was published, a political storm exploded, and Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek dismissed Dębski.

Dębski is the third important official in recent times to die in unexplained circumstances. It will soon be three years since the tragic death of General Marek Papała. His killers are still at large. The commander in chief of the police was shot in the parking lot near his home in Warsaw's Ursynуw borough. There were no witnesses.

In March last year Ireneusz Sekuła, former head of the Central Customs Office, was found in his own office with three bullet wounds to his chest. According to the prosecutor, Sekuła, who had been deputy prime minister in Mieczysław Rakowski's government, had tried to commit suicide. A suicide note was allegedly found, stating trouble over accusations of embezzlement in selling a building belonging to a Warsaw factory as reason for the act.

Marcin Mierzejewski