Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Poland to investigate allegations former government used secret services against opponents

Poland's parliament on Friday set up a commission to investigate allegations that high-ranking officials in the previous government pressured the country's secret services to dig up dirt on political opponents.

Lawmakers voted 265-157, with 10 abstentions, to establish a special parliamentary commission charged with investigating whether senior officials in former
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's government and top law enforcement agents abused their powers by using the secret services, police and prosecutors to achieve political goals.

Kaczynski's Law and Justice party has rejected the allegations and says it intends to submit a challenge to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, arguing that the new panel may not be in line with the constitution.
Kaczynski's party was ousted from power by Prime Minister Donald Tusk's Civic Platform in October elections.
While in opposition, Civic Platform and left-wing politicians accused the former justice minister, the secret services and prosecutors of abusing their powers to silence government critics and political opponents.

The opposition pointed to a sting operation run by the Anti-Corruption Office that implicated former Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper in a corruption scandal.
Lepper _ the leader of the small Self-Defense party, which for a time shared power in a coalition with Law and Justice _ denied the allegations against him, but was promptly fired. Prosecutors have not brought charges against him.

Last month, lawmakers also set up a commission to look into the death of former left-wing minister Barbara Blida, who committed suicide in her bathroom while special agents searched her house.

Blida was under investigation for allegedly taking bribes tied to the coal trade in southern Poland. Left-wing politicians say the investigation against Blida was politically inspired.