Friday, February 21, 2003

Head of Polish Television comments on bribe

The head of Polish Television Robert Kwiatkowski has told the parliamentary commission investigating the so-called Rywingate scandal that it was not his idea to send film producer Lew Rywin to Gazeta Wyborcza to solicit a bribe.

Gazeta Wyborcza Editor in Chief Adam Michnik suggested that Kwiatkowski might have been interested in compromising the daily through a bribery scandal in order to eliminate it as a potential buyer in the possible privatisation of Polish Television's second channel.

"I never intended to privatise the [Polish Television] second channel, or indeed the first channel either, and I never undertook activities in that direction," Kwiatkowski told the commission.

Meanwhile, Rzeczpospolita has published Kwiatkowski's phone bills, which show that he telephoned Rywin 13 times over a two-week period in July, when Rywin allegedly made his offer to Agora, the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Amnesty International
Annual Report Index > 2002

There were reports of racist attacks in which the police failed to protect the victims adequately. Some investigations into such attacks did not appear to have been conducted thoroughly and impartially.

Racist violence

There were reports of incidents of racially motivated violence in which the police authorities failed in their duty to protect the victims adequately.

In August, 20 Roma who were staying in a hotel in Koszelówka, near Plock, were attacked by 40 young men wielding clubs and stones. The attack followed an incident in a local discotheque in which a Romani youth had allegedly committed a theft. The mob, shouting threats and racist abuse, reportedly forced open the gate to the hotel yard and threw bricks through the windows, which were secured by metal bars. They broke car windshields and threw burning wood inside the vehicles. Apparently two police officers who were at the scene of the attack did not intervene to stop the violence. The mob dispersed when three police patrol cars arrived. One Romani man who was hit in the face with a brick was hospitalized while several others received treatment for lesser injuries. The police detained three men and subsequently charged nine for participating in a fight and causing damage to property. A police spokesman denied that the assault was racially motivated and claimed that the two officers present at the scene of the attack were unable to intervene.
In June, Simon Moleke Njie, a refugee from Cameroon, and his visitor, a Senegalese national, described how they were beaten by four men, one of whom had a wooden bat, while standing at a bus stop in Warsaw. The four men punched Simon Moleke Njie and shouted racist abuse at him. The two victims managed to escape in a taxi and went to a police station which was only 200m away. One of the three officers standing in front of the station reportedly laughed when he saw Simon Moleke Njie's head injury. Another officer asked him for his passport. The officers refused to call an ambulance or to take contact details for the taxi driver, who had witnessed some of the assault.

Investigations into some racially motivated incidents appeared not to be thorough and impartial and, as a result, those responsible for racist violence were not brought to justice.

In May, Florence Balagiza, an 18-year-old asylum-seeker from Rwanda, was reportedly attacked and racially abused by three men, one of whom was armed with a knife, near the refugee camp at Dabak. When she returned to the refugee camp and called the police she was told that they were busy. The police came the following day. Florence Balagiza explained that she was unable to pay for a forensic examination of the injuries she had suffered in the attack and was reportedly told that the police could not offer her any assistance ''because it was not their business''. In August she received the Pruszków Public Prosecutor's decision to terminate the investigation because it was not possible to establish the identity of the perpetrator. This document, which contained a detailed description of the incident which was described as ''robbery with the use of a knife'', failed to note the racist nature of the assault. Officials in the Public Prosecutor's Office did not question the victim.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Conspiracy of Silence
By Marcin Mierzejewski
13 February 2003

The investigation into Poland's biggest pedophile scandal has come to a grinding halt, according to the Wprost weekly.

Four months ago journalists from Wprost and Polsat TV revealed the existence of a pedophile network. In the cover story of its latest issue (Feb. 9) Wprost asks a dramatic question: who is covering up the pedophile scandal?

The collected materials which the journalists passed on to the law enforcement authorities included evidence incriminating at least 50 people, accused of sexually abusing children and being involved in the procurement and production of pornographic materials with the participation of juveniles.

At the time, Zygmunt Kapusta, head of the Appellate Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw, commented on the "complete cooperation of journalists, the police and the prosecutor's office." Kapusta added that it was "an unprecedented case. There has never been such a large-scale investigation before." Similarly, Justice Minister Grzegorz Kurczuk said "there will be no leniency towards anybody, no matter how high their social status."

However, after four months of investigations, the results are far from satisfying. Directly after the information provided by the journalists was received by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBŚ), four suspects were arrested. The CBŚ was taken off the investigation when the prosecutor's office stepped in. Proceedings were taken over by an investigation department of the Warsaw Police Headquarters in which, according to Wprost, only one person started working the case.

The Wprost journalists also question the order in which witnesses were examined-the order was set by Prosecutor Agnieszka Ważna from the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw. Rather than the suspects, it was the journalists themselves who were first interviewed. "During lengthy sessions we were asked about meaningless details or about quotes from the articles published in Wprost," writes Piotr Kudzia and Grzegorz Pawelczyk. "They even tried to prove that we had concealed some information."

"I have no doubts that there's a conspiracy of silence in the case of pedophilia," said Stanisław Iwanicki, former minister of justice and prosecutor general. He claims that the police and prosecutors in Poland are pressed "not to reveal certain things, as they could harm some very influential circles."

Another former minister of justice, now mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczyński, agrees that pedophile rings are so influential in Poland that in practice they hold the authority to decide how this crime should be fought. "Which means that it's not fought at all,"

Kaczyński spells out. This is confirmed by unofficial statements Warsaw policemen have made to Wprost. They have known for years that Warsaw has pedophiles in high places-including the Sejm.

The suspicion of a conspiracy of silence is indirectly supported by Krzysztof Janik, minister of internal affairs and administration, who said: "I don't know why the investigation is moving at a snail's pace. I don't suspect prosecutors of neglecting the investigation on purpose. I have, however, already noticed that even judges and prosecutors lack courage in cases against pedophiles. Such cases are usually worked in silence, so as not to shock anybody, and the sentences which have been passed so far were not too severe."

Official declarations stating that the case revealed by Wprost and Polsat would be the first Polish investigation pursued on the model provided by Western law enforcement authorities, where special groups of policemen and prosecutors work cases against pedophiles (see sidebar), have turned out to be groundless. Nevertheless, the journalists are not giving up-in cooperation with French television they are preparing a documentary about a pedophile network active in France which was in contact with their Polish counterparts.

Maybe this will help break the conspiracy of silence concerning pedophilia in Poland, as French police have no reason to protect pedophiles with well-known names active in Poland, conclude Kudzia and Pawelczyk.