Friday, July 06, 2007

Ziobro warns of ‘sensationalist’ reporting

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro will go to Media Ethics Council with complaints about press accusations his ministry pressurized witnesses in politician’s suicide case.

Justice Minister Ziobro was apprently tipped off about the ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ daily publishing an article today concerning the prosecutor’s investigation into the suicide of ex-minister Barbara Blida ‘provocative’.

According to Ministry Ziobro, Thursday evening, the article was to present accusations against him and his ministry without context and manipulated fragments of prosecutors’ testimonies concerning Blida’s suicide.

“I just wanted to warn [the public] against it. Some people are spreading untrue information,” Ziobro added.

He also accused TVN’s “UWAGA” show of manipulating statements by Blida’s husband which indicated that he was treated badly by investigating officers.

“I don’t believe that Mr. Blida would consciously deceive public opinion,” said Zibo and accused the media of sensationalist reporting.

“We will go to the Media Ethics Council with this case,” the Minister announced.

Barbara Blida, ex-minister of construction in the previous left wing government died in a suicide a few months ago while police were searching her house in connection with corruption charges.

The circumstances of her suicide are still not clear and investigation about the action taken by the Interior Security Bureau in Barbara Blida’s house continues.

The Gazeta accusations

Gazeta Wyborcza claims that Justice Minister Ziobro was to visit Silesia on the day Blida commited suicice.

According to the daily, the prosecutors in charge of Blida’s case acted under pressure and their decision to arrest the ex minister was not unanimous. The date of arrest, previously known by the Internal Security Agency (ABW), was imposed by their superiors.

In June, the prosecutor’s office, investigating Barbara Blida’s suicide committed during ABW’s intervention, interrogated four prosecutors from Katowice, who had been investigating the case of coal mafia and its connections with politicians - mainly from the left. Barbara Blida, a former Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) MP and construction minister was among the suspects.

On the morning of 25 April, she shot herself dead when ABW agents, holding a search warrant issued by the prosecutor’s office, turned up at her home in Siemianowice (Silesia Region).

The prosecutors’ depositions confirm that the investigators had acted under pressure and were constantly monitored by heir superiors. They were expected to arrest all of the suspects.

“The level of the superiors’ interest in the case and the number of meetings was something out of the ordinary, previously unheard of, perhaps with the exception of the Orlen case. I had a feeling that the district prosecutor tried to control us”, said Tomasz Balas, one of the four prosecutors interrogated by ABW.

The prosecutors from Katowice have admitted that their decision to stop Barbara Blida was not made unanimously. The prosecutors Tomasz Balas and Małgorzata Kaczmarczyk-Suchan believed that it would have been sufficient to send Blida interrogation summons. They also said they had believed the case would have been used for publicity by their superiors and the Ministry of Justice.

According to the prosecutors’ depositions, a visit from minister of justice Zbigniew Ziobro and his press conference were to take place in Silesia on the day Barbara Blida died. Yesterday, minister Ziobro denied that - writes "Gazeta Wyborcza”.