Monday, March 31, 2008

Sleeping driver probable cause of Austrian coach crash

The crash of the Polish coach in Austria on Saturday morning was probably caused by the driver falling asleep.

One person died and 39 were injured.

According to the Austrian police, the Polish driver fell asleep behind the wheel. The weather conditions were good and the road surface dry. The preliminary inspection of the bus suggests that everything was in order.

The accident happened before 6 am on a highway between the towns of Haid and Sattledt. The coach belonging to Fanklub company from Poznan, western Poland was transporting 55 workers of the heat and power plant Opole on a skiing trip to northern Italy.

The coach suddenly pulled over, crashed through the road side barrier and fell off a 4-metre embankment, turning to its side. A 40-year-old man died and five people were seriously injured.

Out of the 55 passengers, only 11 escaped unscathed. The driver emerged from the crash in severe shock and said only: "I regret that it's not me that died".

Last July, 20 Polish pilgrims died in a coach crash in Grenoble, France.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Police detain Polonia Warsaw coach in connection with match-fixing allegations

Anti-corruption police detained Polonia Warsaw coach Dariusz Wdowczyk on Friday in connection with match-fixing allegations.

The 45-year-old Wdowczyk was held a day after four people - including a referee, an assistant coach of Wisla Krakow, and an assistant coach and an official from Kolporter Korona Kielce - were detained by officers, Poland Anti-Corruption Office spokesman Tomasz Fratczak said.

Fratczak said Wdowczyk will likely face corruption charges tied to rigged matches.

Wdowczyk, who played in 53 matches for Poland's national team as a central defender, coached Korona Kielce from 2002-04. He then led Legia Warsaw to a first-division title before moving across town to second-division club Polonia Warsaw.

Prosecutors have been investigating match-rigging allegations in Poland's domestic leagues since 2005, and have claimed that over 400 domestic matches were fixed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Peter V. questioned in Slovakia?

The Polish Ministry of Justice denies that Peter V. allegedly testified in a corruption and money laundering case in a Poloish consulate in Bratislava.

The ministry confirmed that Peter V., arrested on Monday on charges of helping in money laundering and fraud, scheduled a meeting in the Polish consulate in Slovakia, but finally refused to testify about the so-called "secret accounts of politicians".

He only agreed to testify in the case concerning his pardoning by the former President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

So far, Justice Minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski has vehemently claimied that Peter V. was not interrogated in Slovakia.

Peter V., referred to in the media as "Cashier of the Left", is accused of running Swiss accounts of Polish left-wing politicians where they accumulated bribes obtained in Poland.

Dochnal to confront Peter V. in court

In a related story, Polish lobbyist Marek Dochnal is to confront Peter V., one of the murkiest figures of Polish business and politics, in a notorious court case concerning money laundering.

Dochnal is accused of money laundering to the tune of 70 million zlotys, fraud, as well as using forged documents, while Peter V., the so-called "cashier of the Left", is facing charges of helping in money laundering and fraud in the same case.

In his testimony so far, Marek Dochnal spoke about Swiss accounts of top politicians from the left side of the Polish political scene, where they accumulated money from, he claims, bribes obtained in Poland. Peter V., working for a Swiss bank, Couts, was running these accounts, it is alleged.

Peter V., then Piotr Filipkowski vel Filipczynski, first appeared in court in the 1970s when he robbed and brutally killed a 75-year-old woman at the age of 17. In 1979 he was temporarily released and obtained a passport in unclear circumstances in 1983. According to press reports, he began cooperating with the communist social services, which enabled him to go to Switzerland, where he started a job as a banker.

In 1998 the Polish judiciary launched the extradition procedure. Peter V. was detained in Switzerland and sent to Poland to serve the rest of his sentence, but was pardoned by the then President Aleksander Kwasniewski and went back to Switzerland in 1999.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gorbachev and Thatcher before Polish court?

General Wojciech Jaruzelski, responsible for imposing martial law in Poland in 1981, wants ex world leaders to be witnesses at his trial in a Polish court.

General Jaruzelski has filed a motion with a court to have the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former British PM Margaret Thatcher, former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt as witnesses at his own trial, Gazeta Wyborcza daily reveals.

In 1996, the Polish Sejm - the lower house of parliament - refused to have the Communist General tried by the State Tribunal, explaining that imposing martial law was an act of necessity on part of Jaruzelski. But in April 2007, the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) deemed the preparations for martial law communist crime and presented charges to Wojciech Jaruzelski.

IPN believes, however, that the current list of 21 witnesses, mainly high rank officers from early 1980s. is sufficient.

General Wojciech Jaruzelski is one of eight ex-Communist government members standing trial in Warsaw. The list includes Stanislaw Kania, 1st Secretary of the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR), Czeslaw Kiszczak, Interior Minister and General Florian Siwicki, deputy Minister of the Defence Ministry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Polish Group Attacks Inhabitants in Reykjavyk

A group of ten or 12 men armed with iron bars, sledgehammers, bats and an ax attacked the inhabitants of an apartment in the Reykjavyk district of Breidholt on Saturday. Seven were injured, one seriously with severe head trauma and a collapsed lung.

Police have arrested four individuals suspected of having participated in the attack and are searching for the remaining members of the gang, Morgunbladid reports.

The neighbors of the victims notified police but when the officers arrived the attackers had disappeared. The neighbors had written down the license plates of one of their cars, though, and thus police were able to locate part of the gang.

Police have confirmed that the attack was premeditated and it appears as if the gang was collecting a protective tariff. Both the attackers and the victims were of Polish origin.

Einar Sk?lason, director of Ah?s, the Intercultural Center in Reykjavyk, said exploitative relations based on interests are sometimes created within groups of immigrants.

Skulason explained that those who have better knowledge of the Icelandic language and system may sometimes take advantage of those who have recently arrived to the country and require assistance to adjust.

Skulason emphasized that it is important that the public does not judge all immigrants because of negative news stories like this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Doctors should come to their senses, says minister

The Polish Ministry of Health has criticized doctors from the hospital in Radom, central Poland, who refuse to exceed their new working hours limit agreement, resulting in closed down wards.

Deputy health minister, Krzysztof Grzegorek, said that they will be to blame for losing their jobs.

Grzegorek appealed to doctors to 'come to their senses'. He said that this is the first time in the history of the Polish medical service that doctors left their patients' bedsides.

The head of the National Health Fund said that this year, wards of the hospital in Radom, central Poland, where the doctors did not show up to work today will remain closed. This is the first time that the government has reacted so harshly to protesting doctors.

On Thursday, two wards of the hospital were closed by the government of the province, because the doctors refused to sign the opt-out clauses, which would allow them to do overtime and did not show up at work.

The doctors from the hospital say that they have a right not to sign the clauses and stressed that doctors are often being forced to sign up to working long hours.

The law, they argue, states that doctors can work overtime only of their own free will.

The Radom doctors stress that working 300 or 400 hours a month is a potential threat to patients.

According to the deputy minister, however, doctors should not protest, because they recently received huge pay rises and are earning over 10,000 zloty a month. He also said that although at the moment the government has no funds for more pay increases, the doctors can count on higher pay in future

Monday, March 24, 2008

50 die on Polish roads over Easter

Fifty people died and 472 were injured in road accidents in Poland during Easter holiday period..

The police recorded 345 accidents and detained 1332 drunk drivers. Driving conditions this year were difficult due to snow and sleet, which fell in many parts of Poland, though the police say that the figures for this year, though bad, are not an increase on 2007.

33 road accident casualties in Poland

From Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 33 people died in 200 road collisions around Poland; 370 were injured.

Around a thousand were detained for drink driving.

According to the data of the Police headquarters, during this year's Easter there were slightly more collisions than a year ago.

Bad weather conditions, in many regions snow is still falling, might make these predictably grim statistics even higher.

Ten thousand police officers are patrolling Polish roads, checking whether the drivers are not under the influence of alcohol, but also the technical state of the vehicles.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Brazil Seizes One Ton of Cocaine heading for Poland

Sao Paulo, Mar 21 (Prensa Latina) The Brazilian Federal Police confiscated on Saturday nearly one ton of cocaine and arrested three people in an operation in Itatiba, at 52 miles east of the City

The drug have entered Brazil hidden in import track's batteries and was being packed to continue traveling to Poland and Holland by containers.

During the seizure three persons were arrested who were in charged of taking care of the load: one Brazilian man and two Surinamese which names were not revealed.

Late on July the Federal Police seized 800 kilos of that drug in a fishing boat and on September another lot of 800 kilos in Riberao Preto at 195 miles north of that city.

Sao Paulo Military Police have confiscated another load, already packed for small doses distribution, during a search at Dianopolis street in San Paulo Eastern zone.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Car hits group of Polish cyclists, 14 teenagers injured

A car smashed into a group of cyclists on a training session in Kalisz, central Poland, injuring fourteen teenagers, two of them seriously, local police said on Friday.

The teenagers were hit by the vehicle during a road session which was being held near their cycling club, a police spokesperson said. They were all hospitalized, although none of the injuries were believed to be life threatening.

The cyclists aged 12-18 were experienced riders and were in training for Polish, European and world junior championships.

The driver, who veered across the carriageway, may have fallen asleep at the wheel, but he was not drunk, the country's PAP news agency said.

Police said the man attempted to commit suicide soon after the incident. "He wanted to hang himself on his seatbelt," the spokesperson added.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Record breaking alcohol consumption in Poland

Poles have never drunk so much alcohol, Polska daily warns.

According to the newest data, last year Poles spent on as much as 21.5 billion zlotys on alcoholic drinks, 15 percent more than in 2006. The newspaper points out that this means that the expenditure on alcohol in Poland is growing faster than salaries. The daily also stresses that Poles can afford more expensive alcohol now and that many treat drinking as the easiest way to fight stress.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pole, 79, arrested for catapult anti-car campaign

A 79-year-old Polish man has been arrested for using a catapult to damage more than a dozen cars parked in front of his apartment block, judicial authorities said Friday.

The man, who lives in the central Polish city of Kalisz, shot at the vehicles for more than a year until investigators were called in, said Janusz Walczak, a spokesman for the local prosecutor's office.

Walczak did not identify the man by name.

The elderly shooter reportedly told investigators that he had opted for the weapon long favoured by cheeky youngsters because he had been sick of the noise and pollution caused by the comings and goings of the cars.

His one-man campaign was brought to a halt after he was caught red-handed shooting at an Audi 80 and a Fiat Punto, thanks to a security camera installed by fellow residents.

Police who searched his home found two catapults and a bag of stones.

Note: Finally a Polak I like!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Polish rapist loses UK lawyer

Andrew Langdon QC, representing Jakub Tomczak sentenced to double-life imprisonment for raping an inhabitant of Exeter, UK, has resigned from his post.

Andrew Langdon, who is among the top 400 lawyers in the UK, sent a letter to the Long Martin prison, where Tomczak is currently serving his sentence, in which he communicated to his client that he sees no chance of a successful appeal against the sentence, reports Polish TV station TVN.

Jakub Tomczak’s family is now looking for another lawyer, so far.

The Pole was declared guilty of raping and assaulting 49-year old Jane H., and sentenced to double life-imprisonment by an Exeter court 28 January. Crucial to the verdict were CCTV recordings and DNA samples.

The rape occurred on the night of 22 June 2006. Jakub T. was extradited to Great Britain last autumn after a European Arrest Warrant was issued after him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Catholic Church in Poland is facing another child-abuse scandal

A new child-abuse scandal rocked the Catholic Church last week. Daily Gazeta Wyborcza first reported claims of four former children from the St. Brother Albert shelter in Szczecin, who accused priest Andrzej, a helper at the shelter, of sexual harassment, psychological abuse and rape.

All major dailies covered the incidents last week. According to Gazeta Wyborcza, the Church authorities in Szczecin were informed of the situation in 1995 but did not act on it for years. "The youngest of the children was, at the time, 13 years old," said Father Mogielski, who learned of the issue in 2003 and filed a report with the Church. The prosecutor in Szczecin is investigating the matter, while Father Andrzej has denied all accusations. The Church removed him from his duties as an educator in 2007.

This is not the first time the Church has been accused of ignoring reports of priests abusing minors. In March of last year, Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of the Diocese of Plock came under attack, alongside other diocese officials, following claims that they had known about priests abusing minors for at least six years, but had failed to intervene.

A spokesperson for British child protection organization NSPCC told WBJ that the right support needed to be given to the victims. She said that running campaigns similar to the organization's "Don't Hide It" campaign could help victims seek aid. Last year 8,637 people called NSPCC's Childline to talk about sexual abuse, while another 150,000 calls were made to its National Protection Helpline.

But there is no comprehensive helpline listed in the Child Helpline International directory for Poland. The country does have a number of emerging organizations that offer some help for abused children like the Nobody's Children Foundation's helpline and Dzieciecy Telefon Zaufania.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Stoklosa to remain in custody

Henryk Stoklosa will remain in custody for the next 3 months in connection with tax fraud.

The court in Poznan, west-central Poland, granted the motion for an extension of custody for the Polish businessman and former senator.

Stoklosa was detained in Germany in November, after an international arrest warrant was issued for him. In December he was transported to Poland.

Henryk Stoklosa is connected to the scandal in the Ministry of Finance. He is suspected of securing tax exemptions worth millions of zloty thanks to his connections with corrupt officials from the Finance Ministry and a judge from Poznan.

The Public Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw brought 22 charges against him. He is facing up to ten years in prison.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Polish E-voting is for beer-swigging, porn-loving youths

Poland should not opt for e-voting, because the Internet is a preserve of beer-swigging youths with a penchant for pornography, the country's defeated conservative prime minister said on Wednesday.

"I am not enthusiastic about the idea of a youngster sitting at his computer, watching videos and porn, slugging on a beer bottle and voting whenever he feels like it," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said in an interview published, ironically, on the Web site of his Law and Justice party.

Poland has regularly faced low election turnout rates since the advent of democracy when the communist bloc collapsed in 1989.

The national ombudsman has suggested that Warsaw should follow the lead of regional neighbours such as Estonia and use voting on line to encourage more people to take part.

But Kaczynski, who was swept from office by the liberal Civic Platform in a snap election last October and is now leader of the opposition, suggested that Internet balloting could be a ruse to fiddle future results.

Internet-users are "the easiest group to manipulate, and to suggest who they should vote for," he said.

Instead of plunging headlong towards new-fangled ideas, Kaczynski added, today's politicians should take a tip from their predecessors and opt for tried-and-tested methods such as marketplace soapbox speeches.

Young and urban voters, considered typical Internet users in many countries, swung solidly behind the Civic Platform in last year's election, when the Web was a major campaign tool for the liberals.

Analysts said a weak Internet presence contributed to Law and Justice's defeat after two years in office, with the party more popular among older voters than younger ones.

Law and Justice has since been looking to spruce up its image, and, despite his comments, Kaczynski has not been entirely Internet-shy.

In December, he launched a videoblog, saying it was "a good way to meet people" and that he planned to use it around three times a month to express his views.

Kaczynski, 58, is the identical twin of Poland's incumbent President Lech Kaczynski, and is known for his often truculent style and occasionally unusual comments.

He raised eyebrows last year when he said he did not have a bank account, explaining that he feared that anyone trying to manufacture a scandal might transfer funds into it and then try to discredit him.

Instead, he said, he chose to pay his salary over to his mother.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Polish killers, drug smugglers and rapists on the run in Britain are being sent home on 'Con Air' flights

Shackled and strapped on to metal benches on a military transport plane, Polish murderers, rapists and drug smugglers arrested in Britain are being flown home to prison on secret flights.

The Eastern European criminals and fugitives, captured on the run, are loaded on to specially hired military aircraft to face court and prison intheir homeland.

In scenes reminiscent of the Hollywood movie Con Air starring Nicolas Cage – about a group of hardened convicts being flown across America – the Polish criminals are forced to endure an uncomfortable, windowless ride home in the back of a Russian-built Antonov troop-carrier.

After it was recently revealed that the Home Office was offering Ј3,000 incentives to foreign prisoners willing to return home to relieve overcrowding in Britain's jails, this is justice Polish-style.

The Polish authorities used to escort their prisoners home on regular charter flights from London.

But violent incidents which endangered some civilian flights – as well as the escalating cost – led to the chartering of military planes to fly them back to Warsaw.

So many Poles wanted for crimes - including murder and rape - are being picked up in Britain that "Con Air" flights from Warsaw are now regularly touching down in London.

The camouflaged plane is stripped of everything other than a metal bench and the prisoners are handcuffed and guarded by armed policemen.

When the aircraft land, the prisoners are led off the rear loading ramp in shackles, carrying their possessions in plastic bags, and herded off past a row of uniformed officers into prison buses that take them to the cells.

The Polish ministry of internal affairs says the number of criminals extradited from the UK to Poland has recently grown 14-fold – with an average of three wanted Poles arrested in Britain each week.

Some are absconded offenders, while many others are wanted for trial.

Since Poland's accession to the EU in 2004, scores of people facing court hearings are known to have fled to the UK.

It has become a popular choice for wanted individuals who find it easy to disappear among Britain's expanding Polish community, most of whom are hard-working and law-abiding.

Before the flights started this year, each fugitive had to be escorted back home by two police officers.

In 2007, it cost about Ј300,000 to take 135 criminals back to Poland on 73 different commercial flights.

Now, by using leased, no-frills military planes from the Polish air force, the Polish police have slashed the cost of the operation.

Earlier this month, a secret flight from London to Warsaw took off carrying ten Poles wanted for offences as diverse as bank theft, drug smuggling and arms trading.

The cost was Ј8,000, compared with the Ј38,000 Polish authorities would have paid for regular flights.

Already this year, 36 suspected criminals have been sent back to Poland in this way.

Sources in Warsaw said: "It's cheap and it's safer.

"We've had a few accidents, when criminals flying back to Poland tried to hijack the plane, despite the efforts of their escorts, and forced the crew to divert.

"The slightest possibility of that is ruled out now."

The fugitives are arrested here under European warrants for a range of crimes committed in Poland, from murder and rape to petty theft.

Most are held after committing crimes in the UK or after being stopped for traffic offences.

A spokesman at the Polish police headquarters in Warsaw said: "Most of them have committed crimes in Britain. These include practically every crime in the book."

In the past month, one of the flights has been used to deport a man who fled from Poland to England after killing two people in a road accident.

Other Poles who have recently been flown home were wanted for a security van robbery, assault and illegal possession of weapons.

A spokesman for the Polish interior ministry said: "There is no other way. So many are being caught each week for petty – and some serious – crimes in the UK.

"They don't like the military flights because they aren't exactly comfortable. But they do the job."

Friday, March 14, 2008

This is one lesson they won't forget

A pair of bank robbers burst into tears and collapsed choking in Poland after they tried to use pepper spray on a cashier in front of an air conditioning unit.

The wind blew the spray back over the pair, who staggered from the bank in the south-western city of Wroclaw empty handed.

"They told the cashier to open the till and then tried to put her out of action to grab the cash - but the pepper sprayed back in their faces because of the blast of warm air from the heater," said a local police spokesperson.

"They only managed to escape because they had a pal outside in a getaway car."

Security cameras showed the crooks were wearing wooly black balaclavas, although Polish media speculated that if they strike again - they might well have switched to gas masks.

Police are still looking for the crooks.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Notorious Polish sex predator accused of raping 11-year-old

An 11-year old girl from Wagrowiec, west-central Poland, was most probably raped by a 62-year old acquaintance of her grandmother, say police.

The girl's grandmother met the men through an ad in the dating section of a local newspaper. They have been exchanging letters since October. The man frequently assured the elderly lady of his profound religiosity.

He first visited the girl's grandmother in March and was entirely trusted by all the family members from the minute he arrived.

Last Friday the man offered to take the girl on a trip around Wagrowiec but instead took her to Zabrze, southern Poland, his hometown, where he most likely raped her in a hotel room.

After a couple of hours, alarmed by their daughter's prolonging absence, the parents notified the police. It turned out that the man already had a criminal record. He served time for sex-related crimes and lawless imprisonment. He was only released from prison 18 February.

The police found the man in a hotel in Zabrze, around 24 hours after he left Wagrowiec. The man was arrested, but pleaded not guilty. His plea is, however, contradicted by the results of a medical examination of the girl and her testimony.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Polish Man Kills Wife, Sister-in-Law With Ax, Dies in Crash With Bodies in Back Seat

Two women whose bodies were found in the back seat of a crashed car were killed by the driver of the vehicle, who died in the accident, police said Monday.

The two women were sisters, aged between 50 and 60, and were each killed with ax blows to the head, said Krzysztof Jarosz, a spokesman for Poznan police. The 60-year-old man who had driven the car, identified as Mieczyslaw N., was the husband of one of the women, likely motivated by a "family disagreement," he said.

According to the police investigation, the man killed the women in their respective homes Saturday night, then wrapped their bodies in plastic bags and blankets and put them in his car, Jarosz said.

Police think that the man had deliberately killed himself after murdering the women.

«Everything points to those people most likely having been murdered,» Jarosz said. «We don't know who killed them or where they were killed right now, but most likely the driver was moving the bodies in order to bury and hide them.

Also found in the car were three knives, a shovel and an amount of unidentified chemical.

On Sunday he visited another person, with whom he left some US$3,000 (euro2,000) and various documents, and drove off — then crashed into a tree on a country road near the western city of Poznan.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Global Buzz: A U.S. Scholar’s Book Shakes Up Poland

“Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland after Auschwitz” was first published in the U.S. in mid-2006 by Polish-American historian Jan T. Gross, a Princeton professor who charges Poles with a desire to eliminate their remaining Jewish population after the end of World War II. Now a translation of “Fear” is finally on sale in Poland–and it has become the talk of the nation, prompting not only an outcry in Poland but an investigation by prosecutors into whether the book slanders the Polish nation.

In the book, Mr. Gross argues that widespread anti-Semitism and a desire to hold onto confiscated Jewish property led to violent pogroms against Jews, such as in Kielce in 1946. He also accuses the Catholic Church, the Communist authorities and Polish intellectual elites of collaboration.

Since the translation went on sale in January, prominent Polish politicians, historians, media commentators and even Polish-Jewish leaders have criticized the author, saying Mr. Gross has overstated and misrepresented the situation. The Archbishop of Krakow, Stanislaw Dziwisz, complained to the author’s Krakow-based publishers, Znak, that the book promotes anti-Polish and anti-Semitic sentiment and is divisive. On a promotional tour in Poland earlier this year, Mr. Gross faced cries of “lies” and “slander” at packed public appearances. “There have been so many outraged and worried voices,” says Mr. Gross. “But I also see that those who took time to read the book are more thoughtful, reflective.”

Other prominent Poles, such as Marek Beylin, columnist for daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, have praised the book for forcing “a debate on the dark secrets of the Polish past.” Supporters say this public discussion is necessary in a society that has generally viewed itself as a victim of the Nazis and has refused to take full account of its past. Poland lost six million of its citizens in World War II, half of them Jewish, according to most estimates. Mr. Gross estimates that 200,000 out of 300,000 surviving Jews were forced to emigrate after the war due to Polish anti-Semitism, including himself ? he moved to the US in 1969.

Until the middle of February, the book had prosecutors in Krakow considering whether to file charges against the author under a 2006 statute that makes it illegal to “publicly accuse the Polish nation of participating in Nazi or Communist crimes.” The uproar over the book appears to have boosted sales. “We thought we would sell 20,000 copies in the first three months,” said Tomasz Miedzik of Znak, the publisher. “Instead, we sold 25,000 in the first five days.”

Monday, March 10, 2008

Crisis in Polish health care continues

Protests in hospitals all over Poland continue.

Twenty trade unions representatives are occupying a hospital in Starachowice, east-central Poland. They are protesting against the privatization of the facility, claiming that no-one from the local government consulted the decision with them.

Head of the local government announced that he wanted to talk to the protesters but they have not received a formal invitation yet.

Meanwhile in Bialystok in the north east, two nurses from the regional hospital, where a sit-in strike began yesterday, have now gone on a hunger strike.

The nurses want higher salaries and are currently demanding a 1000-zloty (roughly 350 euros) net rise till the end of this year.

Hospitals in Radom, east-central Poland, are near paralyzed. The doctors have already worked the number of hours provided by Polish law but did not sighn the so-called opt-out clause, which would enable them to work more. Therefore the doctors will not come to hospitals for duty hours.

The hospitals' directors proposed to pay the doctor a night bonus, which is to encourage them to work longer hours. If the offer is rejected, there will be not enough surgeons, anesthetists and oncologists and some wards will have to be closed.

Hospitals all over the country have seen similar occurrences in recent months in a continuation of disputes over pay levels and working conditions.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Polish shopper who murdered elderly employer then went on 10,000 pound shopping spree jailed for 20 years

A Polish cleaner has been jailed for 20 years today for murdering her elderly employer and going on a shopping spree with the widow's bank cards.
It took Jolanta Kalinowsica just a week to empty 94-year-old Thea Zaudy's bank account of 10,000 pounds after she strangled her.

Kalinowsica attacked the “frail” pensioner in her home, stamping on her body as she lay on the floor.

With the help of her son Adrian Ryszard Lis, Kalinowsica, 41, then stuffed her Jewish employer's body into a suitcase and disposed of it in July last year.

Mrs Zaudy fled to Britain with her husband during the Second World War to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

The couple had no children and after her husband's death Mrs Zaudy was left with no close family.

But she maintained a close circle of friends and, despite her age, lived independently in a flat in Notting Hill.

Before her husband's death, the couple ran a carpet shop and Oxford Crown Court heard that Mrs Zaudy was "very comfortably well-off".

Police believe that Mrs Zaudy discovered Kalinowsica stealing money from the large stash of cash she kept in the house and a confrontation ensued.

Kalinowsica, Lis and his unwitting girlfriend, Monilca Sienkiewicz, took the suitcase on a London Underground train before being driven to Milton Common near Oxford, where they dumped the body in a field and set light to it.

A jury today found Kalinowsica, from Cavendish Avenue, Ealing, west London, guilty of murdering Mrs Zaudy.

Lis, 23, of the same address, was found guilty of assisting an offender in the disposal of a body.

Miss Sienkiewicz, 19, of the same address, was cleared of assisting an offender by removing evidence and by the removal of a body.

Lukasz Gadja, 25, also from Ealing, was also cleared of assisting an offender by removing a body.

Mrs Zaudy's charred remains were found in a field the day after Kalinowsica and Lis dumped it.

Police initially issued an appeal for help in identifying the body, which was obviously that of an elderly woman.

But it was not until Mrs Zaudy's worried bridge partners reported her missing that officers could put the pieces together.

The pensioner had been strangled in her own flat and kicked and stamped on as she lay on the floor.

After the killing, Kalinowsica bought cleaning products with Mrs Zaudy's own cash cards and scrubbed the flat clean of all traces.

During the three-and-a-half-week trial, the jury saw CCTV footage of Kalinowsica and Lis, accompanied by Miss Sienkiewicz, lugging a heavy suitcase away from Mrs Zaudy's flat.

But the jury heard that Miss Sienkiewicz had no idea of what the suitcase really contained and thought they were helping Kalinowsica carry wet blankets home to dry.

The trio took a Tube train to Ealing Broadway, where they met Mr Gadja, who was waiting to collect them in his car.

He had been told that Kalinowsica had been "paid good money" to destroy some documents and thought that the suitcase contained these papers.

Miss Sienkiewicz went home none the wiser about what her boyfriend and his mother were doing and the remaining three drove down the M40 to Oxfordshire.

Kalinowsica, who denied the charges against her, told the court that before her death Mrs Zaudy had built up a large debt while playing bridge.

She said the elderly woman demanded to borrow ?10,000 from her cleaner to pay the debt.

In return, she said, Mrs Zaudy allowed her to use her bank cards to recoup the borrowed money.

But the jury rejected her explanation and Judge Hall sentenced her today to life in prison with a minimum term of 20 years.

He said: “The jury have convicted you on overwhelming evidence of the murder of Thea Zaudy. She was a defenceless, frail, elderly lady who was otherwise very much on the ball.

"Having killed her, you went out and spent all her money in a spree of spending.

“The killing was utterly callous and thereafter you have been devious and manipulative in the way you got other people to help you.”

Sentencing Lis to four years, half of which will be served on parole, Judge Hall said: “I have no doubt that your mother was the driving force behind this terrible catalogue of events.

“You are no angel but I'm not sure how much of a devil you are. I think you were drawn into this by your mother.”

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Polish paper charges bishops in abuse cover-up

The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza charges that three bishops knew about the sexual molestation of four boys by a priest who founded a home for troubled youth in Szczecin.

The newspaper alleges that Bishop Stanislaw Stefanek, currently bishop of Lomza, was informed of the sexual abuse in 1995. In 1996, Archbishop Marian Przykucki was also informed, the paper says.

The accused priest was removed from his post at the home for troubled youth, but assigned to Catholic High School in the city in northwestern Poland.

The current Archbishop of Szczecin-Kamien, Zygmunt Kaminski, finally initiated a process to address the matter.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another arrest in Polish football corruption scandal

Another referee has been arrested on corruption charges, part of a wide ranging investigation into corruption within Polish football.

The police arrested a third league football referee Konrad B. (31) in Poznan Wednesday morning. Today, he will be moved to Wroclaw to be questioned by the prosecution.

Another third league referee Arkadiusz T. (31), who used to be in charge of training programs for football refs in Wielkopolska region, western Poland, will also hear charges of “setting up match results” today.

So far, over 100 people have heard charges, 17 have been sentenced and 17 more have been on trial since December.

The main suspect in the Polish football corruption scandal is Ryszard F., also known as “Barber”, who has heard over 50 charges.

Investigators allege up to 30 Polish football clubs were involved in the corrupt practices.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Polish police on strike

The majority of Polish police officers have not turned up for work as a sign of protest against unfair distribution of recent pay rises.

Polish police employees, who are not allowed to go on an official strike by law, have gone on one-day sick leaves, taken the Thursday off or gone to give blood instead of turn up for duty.

The Polish police headquarters are unable to confirm what the scale of the protest will be. “Regional heads of police will monitor the situation on an on-going basis and make decisions accordingly”, the police HQ spokesman, Mariusz Sokolowski has told the newspaper.

The police force in Lodz was the first to go on strike. On Wednesday, only 158 out of the total of 350 officers turned up for work. They all called in sick for a few days.

Police HQ have announced they will check the legality of the doctors’ certificates produced by the officers.

Polish police employees are dissatisfied at the recent pay rises. On average, they were promised an increase of 520 zlotys a month each. A junior police officer earns 2200 zlotys a month, informs Dziennik.

Yesterday, Minister of Internal Affairs Grzegorz Schetyna assured that the announced strike of Polish policemen will not paralyze the forces of law and order as the customs officers' strike did with border traffic last month.

Schetyna told Polish Radio said that some funds in the budget had been earmarked for pay hikes, and that the recent raises the police received were the highest in years.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Polish 68-ers

The Shalom Foundation in Warsaw wants tens of thousands of Jews who were expelled from Poland in 1968 after the communist inspired anti-Semitic campaign of that year to regain Polish citizenship.

Commemorations of what happened that year will take place on March 5.

The Communists took away Polish passports and gave Jews a one-way ticket, usually to Austria, where most went on to reside in Israel.

In 2006, when President Lech Kaczynski was in Israel trying to mend difficult relations between the two countries over the decades, promised that any Jewish Pole who wanted their citizenship back could have it, ‘as if they had never been away’.

Problem is – it isn’t in the president’s power to give back their passports. The local authorities, as I understand it, have that privilage, and many are not too keen. Giving back their citizenship would also give them back property rights. Israelis are also none too pleased about having to go through a rigorous procedure that many see as demeaning.

1968 – the year that rocked

Mark Kurlansky’s 1968: the year that rocked the world – available in Polish and English language bookshops - unravels the connections between the revolutionary events of that year in Paris, Prague, America and Poland.

Like 1945 or 1989, 1968 is one of those years that are seen as pivotal to the history of the 20th century.

We were only one year away from the first human being walking on the moon. It was a time of civil rights and anti-war protests, of new and inventive music and sub-cultures, of scientific and social experiment. A very different time, then, from the one we live in today, characterized as it is by aversion to risk and a fear of the new.

The motor of this movement for social change were young, mostly middle class sons and daughters of the old ruling elites. It was a time when students were concentrating more of sit-ins and love-ins than they were on their study-ins. It was a time of hallucinogenic drugs, which my granny used to tell me made one want to jump from the top of multi-story car parks in the mistaken impression that one was an albatross.

Most people, except perhaps the most historically challenged, will have heard of Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Abie Hoffman in the US; or in France, Henri Comte and Jean Paul Satire; or in the Czechoslovak capital, the students and Alexander Dubcek. All over the world, ruling elites had lost their legitimacy and were under pressure.

But few in the West have heard of the names associated with events in Poland of that year: Jacek Kuron, Adam Michnik…
  • Note: Story continues...
  • Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    MEP Geremek refuses again to undergo vetting

    The Speaker of the Lower House Bronislaw Komorowski has criticised Polish European parliament deputy (MEP) Professor Bronislaw Geremek for his refusal to undergo the so-called vetting procedure.

    Bronislaw Geremek told the TVN24 channel yesterday that he would not undergo the vetting process and, like a year ago, he would not submit his ‘lustration’ form, as required by the Polish Lustration Law.

    Geremek refused any further comments and only said that the matter was his “private business”.

    Members of the European parliament rallied to Geremek’s support last year after the then Polish government led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski threatened to recall the MEP back to Warsaw and strip him of his seat. Eventually, however, the lustration law was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Tribunal.

    Bronislaw Komorowski told Polish Radio One Tuesday morning that Western politicians were critical of the Polish Lustration Law, because they did not fully understand the rationale behind the vetting procedure.

    The present government led by Civic Platform are currently drawing up another lustration law which will require all elected politicians to disclose any contact they made with the communist secret services.

    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Polish police chief quits

    The Chief of the Polish police force, Commendant Tadeusz Budzik has handed in his resignation.

    The name of the new police chief will be announced Thursday, says spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, Wioletta Paprocka.

    She would not comment on reports this morning in the Polish media that a major investigation into the activities of the police force will be undertaken by the government.

    Sunday, March 02, 2008

    Can you trust judiciary in Poland?

    The Polish press reports on how the Poles evaluate the courts of justice in the country.

    Generally, Poles don’t trust the judicial system in Poland, a poll in Gazeta Prawna reveals.

    Almost 70 percent of respondents said that verdicts by Polish courts are too lenient and 67 percent negatively evaluated the impartiality of judges. The poll showed also that only 2 percent of Poles support restoration of the capital punishment – a figure much lower than is generally expressed to pollsters.

    Dziennik daily has found that in a few day’s time Washington is to offer Poland help in modernising the Polish army. This is on of the conditions Poland’s government set in exchange for the country’s consent to deploy elements of antimissile shield on its territory. The next round of Polish-US negotiations is to take place on Friday.

    Polska writes about the proposed changes in Polish law making it easier for patients harmed as a result of treatment to assert their rights in court. The project, prepared by the opposition Law and Justice, would also stipulate new, more rigid penalties for corrupt medics, including financial fines and restrictions on exercising a profession.

    Saturday, March 01, 2008

    Harassment at the German-Polish border

    Andrzej Krasnicki reports that motorists have been harassed on both sides of the German-Polish border in recent days. It started with the German police imposing fines against Poles for below-standard first aid boxes. The Polish police then punished German drivers for not having fire extinguishers, which are required in Poland.

    Says Krasnicki, "Today, if residents of Swinoujscie want to visit Germany, they take along a well-equipped German first-aid kit. These are selling like hot cakes in the markets on the border, with a price tag of 6 euros. On the other side, German Federal Police inspect the contents with embarrassing precision.

    Before he knows it, the Polish driver is drowning in fines of 10 to 50 euros, for failing to have thermo foil, for having bandage scissors of the wrong size, or for a missing first-aid box, which is not required in Poland."