Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Test drive Bentley is stolen on arrival in Poland

A BENTLEY sent to Poland for a test drive was stolen not long after it was unloaded.

The BP230,000 Continental GT Speed had been transported from Berlin to Wroclaw for a car magazine's reviewers.

Editor Roman Skapsi said: "The car had probably been monitored by professional thieves as it crossed the border. It had 600 miles on the clock.

"The thieves managed to break open the locks and disable the alarm. The car was well protected but the criminals were clever.

"We have been testing cars for 17 years. This is the first time we've not returned one to its owner."

A police spokesman said: "Such luxury cars are either stolen to order or quickly find buyers, quite often beyond the Polish border."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two youths arrested on murder charges in Poland

Two twenty-year-olds have been arrested on charges of murdering a loan shark from Bielawa, south western Poland.

The man, involved in loan-shark practices for years, was attacked in his apartment and died after receiving multiple head injuries.

The police established that a sum of 50,000 zlotys was stolen. Three-thirds of this money was found in the flats of the arrested men.

Both twenty-year old borrowed money form Wieslaw K. on numerous occasions. The man earned his living by borrowing money on high interest rates and intimidated insolvent debtors. He had a criminal record.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Police Reopen Brixton Murder Appeal

Detectives are appealing for information in connection to the murder of a man in east London last April.

Alfred Liverpool, 25, was shot in Rushcroft Road, Brixton, and died at the scene.

The Detective Chief Inspector leading the investigation, Adnan Qureshi said: "A year has passed since Alfred was fatally shot, and despite extensive enquiries we are still unable to provide his family and friends with the answers they desperately seek.

"I have no doubt there are people who know what happened, and I ask them to find the courage to come forward - to place themselves in the position of a parent who has lost a son, or a friend who has lost someone they cared for, and to imagine the devastating effect such a loss could have, coupled with the anguish of knowing those responsible are still at large."

DCI Qureshi added: "All information is treated confidentially and at court there are a wide number of measures that can be used to help protect witnesses, including voice distortion techniques, giving evidence from behind a screen or using a false name.

"The measures are granted by the courts and are tried and tested. There have been a large number of cases across the country where these measures have worked and have helped families get justice."

Police in particular want to speak to members of the Polish community as well as members of the media who serve London's Polish community and media outlets in Poland.

Reports last year say the suspects were in their early 20s and left the scene in a small red car.

A reward of ?20,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrests of person(s) responsible.

Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 020 8247 4554.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Police:Polish priest was naked

TWO pairs of undies were among the items shown to police during the obscene exposure hearing of a Polish priest.

The Rev Father Wieslaw Pawlowski, 40, has pleaded not guilty to sunbaking naked in Miller Park one Saturday morning last September.

Defence barrister Geoffrey Foster showed a pair of white briefs and a grey pair of G-string briefs to Constable Gregory Hollingworth in Liverpool Court on Monday.

Mr Foster suggested Father Pawlowski was wearing the G-string and sunbaking under the cover of long grass.

Constable Hollingworth said Father Pawlowski ``appeared to be naked'' and hurriedly put on a pair of white underwear as he and another officer approached.

He denied Father Pawlowski was hidden by tall grass and said Father Pawlowski was sunbaking on a banana lounge on cut grass.

During the arrest, one of the officers asked Father Pawlowski why he was sunbaking and he allegedly replied: ``The sun is good for my skin. I have to sunbake to stay healthy.''

As well as arguing that he was wearing the G-string, Father Pawlowski's defence is expected to include evidence that he needs to sunbake regularly to receive adequate levels of vitamin D.

The prosecution case will continue before magistrate Janet Wahlquist in September.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Romanian foreign minister tenders resignation after Polish scandal

Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu tendered his resignation Friday following criticism that he failed to act decisively after the death of a Romanian citizen in Poland.

Bucharest media levelled heavy criticism at both Cioroianu and Romanian diplomats at their country's Warsaw embassy after the Romanian died following a hunger strike.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu was among those critical of Cioroianu, and has demanded an inquiry into the affair. Cioroianu, a historian, has been in office for just over a year.

Note: Being held prisenor in Poland can do that to you.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Comarch says CEO innocent, blasts prosecutors

Polish IT company Comarch COMH.WA said on Wednesday that charges against its chief executive Janusz Filipiak were groundless, and his detention at the weekend by Polish judicial authorities was overzealous.

Filipiak was briefly detained on Saturday, and prosecutors charged him with breaking employment law related to a footballer's contract at a soccer club he controls.

"Professor Filipiak pleads not guilty (to) the pressed charges and has already appealed against them and against the proceedings of the Krakow District Attorney (prosecutor) office," Comarch said in a statement.

Filipiak's case coincides with but is unrelated to an official investigation of a game-rigging scandal engulfing many Polish soccer clubs.

Comarch said some media unfairly presented Filipiak's detention as linked to the scandal. The company accused the prosecutors of a witch hunt against Polish businessmen.

"The case seems to be ... one of many show-off cases by the Polish Public Attorney's Office in recent years, all of which resulted in disgrace for the Attorney's office and prompted apologies to the unjustly detained businessmen," it said.

Polish prosecutors have been embarrassed in recent years when high-profile arrests of prominent businessmen have resulted in failure to bring charges or been thrown out by courts.

The prosecutor could not immediately be reached for comment.

Comarch shares dropped as much as 8 percent on Monday but have since regained some ground. They closed at 106.6 zlotys on Wednesday, up 0.4 percent on the day.

Filipiak and his wife hold nearly 68 percent of Comarch, which he founded in 1993.

"This ... incident has no relation whatsoever to Comarch, and it does not impact in any way on Comarch's business operations," the Krakow-based group said.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sick Polish drug smuggler avoids extradition

A POLISH drug smuggler has won a temporary reprieve in moves to extradite him to Poland to complete a two-year jail sentence.

Extradition proceedings against Grzegorz Kmita, aged 28, of Packham Road, Gravesend, were adjourned until May 14 because Kmita's wife is expecting a baby.

Speaking at Westminster Magistrates' Court last Wednesday, Judge Daphne Wickham said Kmita's forthcoming medical test results for a bowel problem were another reason to delay proceedings.

Kmita was granted bail on the condition he continues living at his address and reports to police twice a week.

Note: According to medical specialists, packing plastic bags of heroin up one's rectum has been known to cause bowel problems.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

polkaing through a thunderstorm: Too many words and not enough digging on the road to 2012

A match-fixing scandal and a complacent attitude towards construction may undermine Poland's ability to co-host Euro 2012

There is a rumour going around that Poland-Ukraine was awarded the rights to host Euro 2012 only by embittered Lennart Johansson acolytes looking to screw up Michel Platini's reign. It is, almost certainly, nothing more than mischief-making, and yet there was a strange pause as Platini opened the envelope that could, with hindsight, be construed as horror. On that momentous day in Cardiff, west seemed to offer an arm to east and talk of the football family didn't seem quite so hopelessly utopian, but since then optimism has withered. There are always scare stories ahead of major events, but recent events in Poland suggest these have more substance than most.

Securing the tournament was Michal Listkiewicz's finest hour, finer even than running the line in the 1990 World Cup final (a photograph of which still adorns the back of his business card). As the president of the Polish football federation (PZPN) spoke about delivering a great victory for the family of Slavs, it was possible even to forget for a moment that it isn't just his hair that has appeared to be made of Teflon.

In JFK, Kevin Costner, playing the New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, describes the men he believes responsible for the Kennedy assassination as "dancing through the raindrops" without ever getting wet. Listkiewicz has spent the last nine years polkaing through a thunderstorm and only now has he got the soaking that's been coming.

He survived a welter of criticism. He survived being suspended by his own sports ministry. But finally, he and the entire governing board of the Polish Football Federation have resigned. Or at least, have announced they will resign, which is not quite the same thing. They will step down on September 14, three months before they would have had to face re-election anyway. "We want to save this federation and we want to save Polish football," Listkiewicz insisted. Eight years too late, some would say.

The crisis has been brought to a head by prosecutors in Wroclaw, who in 2005 finally launched an investigation into corruption and match-fixing. Although no one has yet been prosecuted, 117 people - players, referees, coaches and officials - have been charged, with 29 clubs implicated. Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biala have been docked points, while seven clubs will be demoted one division in the summer, among them the four-times champions Widzew Lodz who, given they are lying third-bottom at the moment, could find themselves in the third flight next season. "We've done a lot, but it was too little, too late," Listkiewicz said. "But the facts say that we've tried to fight the problem. We just didn't have the proper tools. We reacted to events, and we didn't pre-empt the threats, and that must change."

The failure to deal with endemic corruption, though, is just part of the story. For whatever brilliance of politicking or presentation it was that earned Poland-Ukraine the right to host Euro 2012, that project has gone badly off the rails since. Marcin Herra, a former director of the oil company Lotos, was - finally - appointed to oversee the Polish end of planning for Euro 2012 last month. "This project can't help but succeed," he said, which may have been the sort of reassurance Poland needed, but it does hint at a complacency that is, frankly, worrying.

In Ukraine there are ongoing problems in Lviv, the smallest of the venues, but clear plans for the other three stadia. Shakhtar Donetsk's new ground is within a couple of months of completion. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's is late, but will be ready later this year. The problems over the shopping-centre that was blocking an access-route to the new national stadium in Kyiv have been resolved. They have all drawn up plans, begun to put them in practice, discovered problems and resolved them. In Poland, though, there's still a lot of talk and precious little concrete, literal or figurative.

It isn't even clear yet which four venues will be used, with a final decision to be taken by Uefa next month on whether to stick with the quartet originally chosen - Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk and Poznan - or to instead move to one of the reserve venues of Krakow and Chorzow, where the existing football infrastructure is more advanced.

Plans have at last been presented for the 65,000-seater national stadium in Warsaw. It looks impressive and the government has agreed to fund it, but building work has not started and it is not scheduled to be completed until spring 2011 - Uefa has urged all works connected with the tournament to be finished by 2010. It is all very well to talk about the central location, and the waving flag motifs, but will it be ready? The government has also agreed to pay a third of the costs towards the stadia in Wroclaw, Gdansk and Poznan, but it remains unclear where the rest of the money will come from. Already the politically sensitive decision has had to be taken to bring in a Chinese firm to improve the road network.

"Uefa will judge not only stadiums but also airports, hotels, the transport infrastructure, issues of the safety and medical facilities," said Herra. "In different towns, the situation is different. Uefa on the one hand has pointed at the risks with the investment and the short time period remaining. But on the other hand they liked what we have done in the last few weeks, establishing one co-ordinating centre.

"What is crucial is to fulfil all the Uefa requirements by 2010. We know precisely what we have to do. We know how many toilets there have to be at each stadium, where the TV cameras have to be and how far the pitch must be from the stands. We have to work so that, as well as our wonderful history, our emotions, the great matches we have played and the concerts we have organised, we have stadia that fulfil the criteria."

Which is positive, but it's the sort of speech that could have been made six months ago: the time for talking of history and emotion really should be over by now. There are still too many words and not enough digging. After the scathing Uefa report in January, which suggested Poland and Ukraine had four to six months to get their house in order, Platini reiterated last month that they had to "wake up". Herra, at least, is independent from the PZPN, but it cannot help that their board are in a five-month winding-down period. The attitude in Poland seems to be that Uefa will not strip them of hosting rights because it would be too big an embarrassment; at the moment, the danger is that letting them go ahead would be a greater one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Polish football...

This poem is being reprinted here in relation to the just-published 300th edition of the BEING HAD Times

We've been reading in the papers about football in Poland
And how the corruptions and betting have taken their toll and
There've been under-the-table bribes and match fixing
It's a massive scandal, sportsman and criminals mixing;
Coaches, players and refs getting busted
Even Football in Poland cannot be trusted

All things Polish seem only theft and lies
Having a position of trust means wearing a disguise
And really, who wins and who loses
When the only reality is scandalous abuses

And me? I just cannot understand
Why my simple demands
To allow that some reality
About that case they laid on me
A year of my life taken away
My credibility, my trust; even the words I say
I mean, it all makes sense to me
I would think it would be pretty clear by now, anyone can see
That the Polish landscape is an empty scene
Of endless corruption and dirty schemes
You want an oxymoron? Here, please:
How about the words "Polish integrity"?

Social distortion, lack of belief
I mean, they can't even trust their own police
I ask for justice and get Wiesniakowski and Zaremba
A bribe seeking prosecutor and a police pretender
But no matter how much information I might submit,
The lying bastards never admit
They what they did was wrong; morally, ethically, legally
State sponsored thievery, this is what I see

I say it's time for a little relief
I say it's time we call a thief a thief
How about a little changing
A reshuffle, a rearranging;
A couple of new rules, one or two go to jail
A new social forum agreeing that life's not for sale?
And it's got to be now
I mean, for six years I drag this cow
This phony charge, this fake sentence
I want an end, I want some repentance
Because they have got to admit it
They have to say that it was them that did it
Because coming clean is the only path
That inevitably leads us out of the trash
And really this is why I scream and shout
That's what BEING HAD'S really all about
It's about rebuilding what is broken; making a new start
And just like we all should, I do my part
But Jesus, it's like banging your head against the wall
And now, the Polaks can't even trust their own football
You want to say that it's all just a game
I say it's a mess, a farce and a lowdown dirty shame
But really, does this news come as any suprise?
I mean, haven't we already heard all about these guys?
Well, now even Polish football has a corruption scandal to face
Ladies and Gentlemen: This is Poland; I rest my case

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beenhakker says match-fixing scandal could impact his future as Poland coach

Leo Beenhakker is worried the match-fixing scandal that has shaken Polish soccer could impact his future as coach of the national team.

"Everybody who is part of Polish football will recognize of course that it's a very bad situation," Beenhakker told reporters Wednesday. "I'm very concerned about the consequences of all this in relation with the future of Polish football, and of course the future of Polish football is for the moment also my future."

Prosecutors in Wroclaw launched an investigation in 2005 into corruption in Polish soccer. So far, authorities have charged 117 people - including federation members, coaches, referees, players and club officials - with rigging matches in the top domestic leagues. Twenty-nine clubs have been implicated.

Facing significant public and political pressure, Polish soccer federation president Michal Listkiewicz said Sunday the organization's governing board will resign Sept. 14.

Listkiewicz, who hired Beenhakker in July 2007 as the first foreigner to coach the national side, also said he would not run for another term.

Beenhakker praised Listkiewicz for two "perfect" years of co-operation, and said he didn't know whether he can have the same good working relationship with the next man in charge.

"So in that way I also don't have my future very clear as a consequence of this whole situation," he said.

Still, Beenhakker stressed that he wants to stay on as Poland coach, but that he has "to wait for decisions that will come in (the) next weeks and months."

Beenhakker also noted the scandal could disrupt preparations for the European Championship in June, and vowed to try to keep his team isolated from the controversy.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Comarch CEO charged over soccer contract fraud

Janusz Filipiak, the chief executive of mid-sized Polish IT firm Comarch COMH.WA, has been charged with contract fraud in relation to a soccer club he owns, the prosecutor's spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Filipiak, the president and 49 percent owner of Krakow's first-division club Cracovia, has been charged with abetting the back-dating of a former soccer player's employment contract and breaking employment law, together with three other officials at the soccer club, the spokeswoman said.

Polish football is wrestling with a series of corruption scandals; irregularities have been found at 29 football clubs and charges pressed against more than 120 officials.

"Janusz Filipiak was detained, questioned, and released after paying 100,000 zlotys ($46,270) bail," said Boguslawa Marcinkowska, the spokeswoman for the regional prosecutor's office in Krakow.

"There are two charges. The first is abetting in forging a document, in this case back-dating a contract. And the second is infringing workers' rights," said Marcinkowska, without elaborating.

Filipiak and his wife hold nearly 68 percent of Comarch.

"The charges which have been brought against Comarch's chief executive have no connection to the company and will not affect the business going forward," Comarch said in a statement.

The company's shares closed down 3.25 percent at 110 zlotys on Friday.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Polish soccer board to resign in September in face of corruption scandal

The Polish soccer federation's governing board will resign in September because of a game-fixing scandal that has caused a public outcry.

Prosecutors in Wroclaw began investigating in 2005. Authorities have charged 117 people — including federation members, coaches, referees, players and club officials — with rigging matches in the top domestic leagues. Twenty-nine clubs have been implicated.

"We want to save this federation and we want to save Polish soccer," said Michal Listkiewicz, president of the soccer federation.

The scandal has cast a shadow over the country's upcoming debut at the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, as well as its preparations to co-host the 2012 tournament with Ukraine.

Listkiewicz promised that current board members will "do everything" to ensure the scandal doesn't harm the tournaments.

Listkiewicz said Sunday the board will step down Sept. 14, three months before the end of its term. Listkiewicz has headed the body since 1999 and says he will not run again for president. He said the federation decided to appoint a "completely independent" sports prosecutor to fight soccer corruption.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Polish man arrested in connection with Paphos

A Cyprus pub and internet cafe owner has been murdered in Kato Paphos.

Michalis Kaiser, 43, was stabbed to death on Monday night.

A 22-year-old Polish man has been arrested in connection with the murder. He has been remanded in custody for eight days after being found at the scene of the crime in bloodied clothes.

Following questioning, the Polish man admitted killing Kaiser.

It's believed police took additional security measures during the man's transfer to court, as angry relatives and friends of the victim had flooded the court area.

According to reports, at one point there was threat of violence but police intervened in time to prevent it.

The Polish man said it was a "crime of passion" and claimed his wife, who was living with him in Cyprus, had returned to Poland a few days ago, taking their two-year-old child with her.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Polish Murder Suspect Arrested in Iceland

The international division of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police received an arrest warrant from Interpol in Warsaw yesterday in regards to an Icelandic resident of Polish origin who is wanted for murder in his home country. The suspect later turned himself in.

Iceland’s Ministry of Justice received a request for extradition from Polish authorities immediately after the man was arrested. He was asked to give a report and then taken to a prison cell. He is expected to be remanded in custody today, Morgunbladid reports.

The man’s criminal history was brought to the attention of the Icelandic police by members of the Polish community in Iceland. The man is also suspected of belonging to a gang that attacked other Polish residents in their home in March.

Poles in Iceland are now requesting that Icelandic authorities do not issue residence and work permits for wanted criminals.

Minister of Justice Bj?rn Bjarnason told Morgunbladid that Iceland has applied for admission to the European Arrest Warrant Project so that a special arrest warrant from Interpol does not have to be received before the Icelandic police can arrest an individual in Iceland who is wanted for a crime in a different European country. A law amendment will follow.

Bjarnason denied claims that the current Icelandic regulations have made it easy for criminals from the EEA countries to hide in Iceland. “It is not correct considering how quickly we react after receiving a request [from abroad].”

“It may be true that someone convinced these men that they could find shelter here, but I don’t want Icelandic legislation to be interpreted in such a way at all,” Bjarnason concluded.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Polish woman held ex hostage, court told

A woman lured her ex-boyfriend to a flat so a gang could tie him up and torture him for revenge.

Karoline Fedyna tricked former lover Lukasz Matysek into meeting her so her new boyfriend and his pals could ambush the 20-year-old.

The gang held him captive for 24 hours in a flat in Hove - and even held a party while he was their prisoner - enjoying slices of cake between sessions beating him with baseball bats.

Hove Crown Court was yesterday told how migrant worker Mr Matysek, then 20, was finally rescued as the thugs tried to sneak him out of the building the following day.

Five men and one woman, all Polish, have admitted charges including false imprisonment and blackmail.

They are accused of cutting him with knives and stubbing cigarettes on his body as they used his personal identification number to empty his bank account.

However, they dispute the prosecution's version of events.

Mr Matysek yesterday told the court how his ex-girlfriend invited him to her flat in Brunswick Place, Hove, last year, leading him to believe they could rekindle their romance.

She greeted him with a kiss and welcomed him into the flat on the morning of June 2.

But instead of romance, the prosecution claim she wanted retribution and repayment of rent she said he owed her.

Inside the flat, he was confronted by her new boyfriend, Konrad Kornatowski, and another man, Bartolniez Ziaja, who were both armed with baseball bats.

Mr Matysek said: "I went to the bathroom. They were waiting outside the door. They pulled me from the bathroom and threw me into the lounge.

They started beating me and they tied me up."

After attacking him with the bats, the men covered his eyes and mouth with duct tape and bound his wrists and legs together.

Mr Matysek told the court he was at first beaten every ten minutes and then every hour until early the following morning.

The men demanded his bank PIN and withdrew money from a cash machine on Western Road. While Mr Matysek was still bound and stuffed beneath a table in the flat, his captors then threw a party.

Ziaja is accused of cajoling the guests to join in torturing Mr Matysek as the festivities got under way.

The group were caught after forcing Mr Matysek to call a friend to ask him to put more money in his account.

The friend became suspicious and contacted the police.

Ziaja was arrested after leaving the flat the following morning. Fedyna was arrested inside the flat, where officers found Mr Matysek being led down the stairs. Kornatowski escaped, but was eventually arrested four months later in Warrington.

Fedyna told detectives she was owed ?1,250 by Mr Matysek.

She claimed he had tried to sexually assault her after arriving at the flat.

She said Kornatowsi and Ziaja arrived, punched Mr Matysek and demanded he pay her back the rent he owed.

Fedyna, Ziaja and Kornatowski dispute the prosecution's claims about the way the incident happened including suggestions they used a knife and lit cigarettes on him.

A hearing is under way before Judge Anthony Niblett to decide on those facts before the three are sentenced.

Fedyna, 24, Ziaja, 31 and Kornatowski, 30, have admitted false imprisonment and blackmail.

Lukasz Mokrzynski, 20, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm and one charge of attempting to obtain property by deception.

Michal Maszak, 25, and Patrick Wolski, 21, have both pleaded guilty to one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm.

The case continues.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Polish business angry at Kiev police bank raid

Polish business people are to send a letter of protest to the Ukrainian PM after last Friday’s police raid on a bank in Kiev with Polish interests.

Polish businesspeople are to send a letter to Ukraine's PM Yulia Tymoshenko asking for an explanation of what happened during last Friday's tax inspection in Kiev's Kredobank.

Kredobank's majority shareholder is Poland largest bank, PKO BP.

The head of the International Union of Polish Businessmen in Ukraine, Stefan Perkowski, said that reports of the inspection are ‘terrifying’. Masked and armed officers of the tax police burst into one of the branches of the bank in Kiev and detained clients and staff for a couple of hours.

"The conduct of the tax police was inadequate for the status of the company that was being inspected," stressed Perkowski.
Perkowski also told the Polish Radio that since this morning he has been receiving calls from Polish businesspeople alarmed by Friday's events.

According to unofficial information obtained by the Polish Radio, the matter will be looked into by the Polish embassy in Kiev. There has been no comment so far from the Ukrainian tax police.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Former defence minister reproved for ‘morons’ comment

The Parliamentary Ethics Committee has reproved former Minister of National Defence, Aleksander Szczyglo (Law and Justice), for his statement about Polish soldiers charged with mortaring civilians in the Afghan village of Nangar Khel.

As shown on TV, Szczyglo called the seven soldiers – currently awaiting trial - 'a bunch of morons firing at civilians'.

When Szczyglo was asked about the incident in Afghanistan, he answered that proceedings that are to explain the circumstances of the case are in progress. While walking away from the journalist, however, the visibly irritated Szczyglo told her: "Please do not tell me that I am in any way responsible for a bunch of morons shooting at civilians."

Szczyglo apologised for what he said the next day, but the governing Civic Platform (PO) put forward a motion to the Ethics Committee. According to PO MPs, one of Szczyglo's responsibilities was to take care of the ‘good name and image of soldiers’.

Civic Platform wanted Szczyglo to be punished with a reprimand, but the chairman of the committee, Franciszek Stefaniuk (Polish Peasant Party), said that the Committee decided to issue a reproof, as Szczyglo had apologized at a press conference for what he said.

The Parliamentary Ethics Commiitte has the authority to reprove MPs, admonish or reprimand them.

The seven Polish soldiers being investigated on charges of unlawfully shooting dead eight civilians, including women and children, were detained last November. Six are charged with homicide.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Polish soccer wrestles with problems from match-fixing scandal

Recent revelations from an investigation into match-fixing in Polish soccer have rattled investors in the sport and turned up pressure on the country's soccer federation to combat the problem or step down.

In recent weeks, the scandal has triggered public outcry and forced the federation to call an extraordinary meeting for Sunday to address the issue and respond to government calls for its board to resign.

But the federation insists that three years after Wroclaw prosecutors launched an investigation and charged 117 people - including members of the Polish Soccer Federation, coaches, referees, players and club officials - with rigging matches in the top domestic leagues, progress is being made.

"We feel that the fight is going in the right direction, the prosecutors are working very intensively and effectively, and there have been results," said federation spokesman Zbigniew Kozminski. "There is a big problem, but soccer in Poland is so strong that it can get through this and move forward."

Not everyone agrees. Two weeks after match-fixing charges were brought against former Korona Kielce coach Dariusz Wdowczyk, sponsors have begun to reconsider their investments.

Kielce owner Krzysztof Klicki said last week he would end his investment in the team in June. Klicki's announcement came days after Wdowczyk, a former national team player, and his staff were implicated in handing out bribes to officials in 2003-04.

Klicki - who has spent some 40 million zlotys (C$18.8 million) on the club since 2002 - said his name had been tarnished as a result of the scandal. He added that he didn't foresee steps being taken to improve the situation in the near future.

Meanwhile, PTK Centertel, a key investor in the top league, is considering dropping its 60 million zloty (C$28.1 million) sponsorship, said Wojciech Jabczynski, spokesman for PTK's parent company, Telekomunikacja Polska S.A.

The scandal "definitely doesn't benefit the image of the league or its sponsor," Jabczynski said.

According to Justice Minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski, 29 clubs from various divisions have been implicated in the scandal, and that number could still rise.

For its part, the federation has relegated six clubs to lower divisions for fixing matches, but critics say the sport's authorities have dragged their feet on combatting the problem.

The affair has also cast a shadow on the country's first ever European Championship appearance this summer in Austria and Switzerland, as well as its stuttering preparations to co-host the tournament with Ukraine in 2012.

Then again, Italy won the 2006 World Cup while a match-fixing scandal in its domestic league simmered at home - a fact that could give Poles hope ahead of this summer's tournament.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Polish Justice Minister: 29 clubs involved in corruption scandal

Poland's Justice Minister, Zbigniew Cwiakalski, told a parliamentary committee Friday that the corruption scandal enveloping Polish football currently involves 29 clubs and could increase. Interior Minister, Grzegorz Schetyna, has already called for the resignation of the board of the Polish Football Federation (PZPN), saying a "radical decision was necessary."

Last month, former Polish international Dariusz Wdowczyk, was charged with match-fixing while 17 people, including referees and federation officials, received suspended prison sentences last December.

First division sides Zaglebie Lubin and Widzew Lodz will play in the second division next season after being implicated in corrupt activities in the 2004-2005 season.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Polish Bribery exposed in Tesco affair

While hints and complaints of corruption regularly make the rounds in Prague business circles, rarely have such charges surfaced as prominently as they did in a recent case involving British retailer Tesco.

Prague 1 Municipal Court recently convicted one of Tesco’s former executives, Daniela Cepkova, on attempted fraud charges after she sought a bribe worth 60,000 euros (1.5 million Kc/$93,000) from a Polish businessman. She was sentenced to one year of probation. Last April, Cepkova told Wlodzimier Malinowski that Tesco would stock his textile and clothing products in return for the bribe. Cepkova had no authority to deliver on such a promise and pretended to hold her bosses’ position, according to court documents.

Tesco’s management caught wind of Cepkova’s suspicious activities and called in police, said Jana Matouakova, corporate affairs manager for Tesco Stores Czech Republic.

At the time, the police told Matouakova that this was only the second time they had opened a corruption inquiry concerning a private business; most corruption investigations involve public institutions.

The police soon caught Cepkova and her accomplice, Valary Koffi Obla, red-handed as Malinowski handed her the bribe in an envelope at the Jalta Hotel on Wenceslas square. Cepkova’s conviction, which can still be appealed, turned out not to be on charges of corruption, however. The presiding judge, Libor Vavra, found her guilty of attempted fraud instead.

“She was only trying to point to something wrong that she thought was going on in the company, the way they do in bad movies,” V?vra said at the court hearing March 31.

In a follow-up interview, Vavra told The Prague Post that if Cepkov? was trying to point out endemic problems at Tesco, she went about it the wrong way.

“She could have told police or the state prosecutor of her suspicions instead of acting on her own initiative,” he said, adding that “her motive may have been to undermine her bosses’ authority, with whom she did not get along well, while also enriching herself.”

It can be difficult for private companies to prevent such bribery. For example, the energy utility giant CEZ has a tender process that requires two groups of experts to evaluate the technical and economic aspects of any bid independently, said spokeswoman Eva Novakova.

Setting up two evaluation committees, one looking at the technical and the other at the financial aspects of a bid, can be a first step toward a comprehensive fraud risk management regime, said Sirshar Qureshi, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ forensic services department.Corruption is still a problem in Central Europe, Qureshi said. A recent survey by his company found that 18 percent of polled companies in Central and Eastern Europe admitted to either soliciting or offering a bribe.

“What is even more serious is that 30 percent of companies had been asked to pay a bribe and 45 percent of companies felt that they had lost an opportunity to a competitor whom they believed may have paid a bribe,” he added.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Polish police abuse MEP trial continues

Nine years after arrest, the trial of Witold Tomaczak, Polish MEP charged with verbal assault of police officers and breaking traffic regulations, continues.

Tomczak failed to appear at his first hearing but the court decided to launch the trial nevertheless and questioned the two police officers whom Tomczak allegedly abused.

Witold Tomczak is charged with verbally abusing two police officers who stopped him as he was driving upstream on a one-way street. Tomczak only admitted to breaking the traffic regulations, adding that it was the policemen's conduct that was outrageous.

The event happened almost nine years ago. The trial could not be launched at an earlier date, since Tomczak, previously member of the Polish parliament from the League of Polish Families (LPR), now an Member of the European parliament, was protected by his immunity.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Polish doctors vow to stamp out bribery

A conference on system solutions to restrict corruption in the health service has been held in Warsaw.

Health service employees have proposed ways to fight corruption, abundant in their profession by introducing clear rules on medicine refund and health services contracting.

The chairman of the Supreme Medical Council, Konstanty Radziwill stressed that health and life are so important too many, that they will resort to bribes; and there will always be someone willing to take it in a profession where wages are so low.

That is why, according to Radziwill, without the government increasing budget expenditure on the health service there is no way to effectively solve the corruption problem.

Doctor Piotr Kasztelowicz from the district hospital in Chelmza, central Poland, thinks that if patients have to officially pay for services, they will be reluctant to offer extra payments in the form of bribes.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Polish lawmakers open probe of ex-minister's suicide

Polish lawmakers are opening an investigation into the suicide last year of a former government minister who killed herself in the bathroom as police searched her house.

A special commission of seven lawmakers is starting its work Monday. It is supposed to determine whether police and prosecutors acted properly when special agents staged the April 25, 2007, search of the house of Barbara Blida, a former construction minister.

Blida was under investigation for alleged corruption. She served in a former left-wing government.

It is not clear how long the investigation will take.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Polish teachers to strike again

The Polish Teachers' Union (ZNP) plans to stage a strike in schools on 27 May.

The strike is to last one day, during which teachers will not attend to their duties.

A vote on the strike is to take place five days before the date, at the latest. If in a given school, less than 50 percent of teachers are for the strike, it will not take place in that facility.

The teachers demand wages increase by 50 percent by 2010. They also want to retain the possibility of early retirement.

The chairman of the ZNP union, Slawomir Boniarz, stressed at the meeting today that teachers are ready to talk with the government. He added that the strike will not obstruct the oral school-leaving exams (matura) and that it is the headmasters' responsibility that the exams proceed without disruption.

The teachers are another group from the public sector who are pushing for higher wages, after doctors, nurses, postmen, judges, miners and customs officers.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Former Polish president's trial adjourned

The civil proceedings against Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski have been adjourned until 10 June.

Kwasniewski was sued by the Polish weekly Wprost, after the former president called it a "magazine of the former communist secret service".

Today's hearing did not take place due to illness of the judge chairing the proceedings.

For the June hearing the court has scheduled questioning several Wprost journalists, among them Maciej Rybinski, and the defendant, Aleksander Kwasniewski.

Wprost's plenipotentiary stated that the journalists are ready to testify that Kwasniewski's words undermine their credibility as accountable journalists. Kwasniewski's lawyer said that he will notify the former president of the new date of the hearing, but stipulated that Kwasniewski might be unable to attend, due to frequent visits to the US.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Polish football corruption scandal appeals

The Polish Football Association Tribunal will hear appeals lodged by football clubs Zaglebie Lubin and Widzew in connection with a widespread football corruption scandal.

The hearings in the Widzew and Zaglebie cases will begin in Wroclaw, south-west Poland, today at 2 and 4 p.m., respectively. Widzew and Zaglebie will appeal against 100,000 zlotys financial penalties imposed on the clubs by the Polish Football Association (PZPN) in January for their involvement match fixing.

Head of the Football Association Tribunal Krzysztof Malinowski has told Polish Radio Wroclaw that the results of the hearing will be announced after 6 p.m. today.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Polish football club co-operates with corruption watchdog

Widzew Lodz, involved in a wide ranging corruption scandal in Poland is to sign an agreement with Transparency International.

The co-operation is to initiate a complex programme aimed at preventing and fighting corruption in Polish football.

The planned audit is to include the structures of the club, its goals and basic rules of functioning, transparency of its financing and public commitments. Additionally an evaluation of the club’s anti-corruption policy so far is to be conducted.

According to Widzew Lodz vice president Marcin Animucki, co-operation with the anti-corruption watchdog proves that the club’s functioning is indeed transparent and that it is willing to actively participate in fighting corruption in sport.

The watchdog representatives cliam that the new initiative is likely to start some activities which in future could purify Polish sport.

Widzew Lodz was among the two football clubs which last year were relegated to the second league for their involvement in the corruption scandal which has seen over 70 officials, managers and players detained by police..

earlier this week, owner of first division football club Kolporter Korona Kielce, Krzysztof Klicki, announced that he is to stop sponsoring the club.

Klicki’s decision comes a few days after the Central Anticorruption Agency (CBA) and police arrested six individuals involved in setting up Korona’s match results for bribes in the season 2003/2004.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sponsors pull out of Polish football sponsorship

Sponsors of Polish football clubs are fed up with corruption scandals in Polish soccer, Puls Biznesu wanrs.

More and more companies are resigning from sponsoring clubs; even the sponsor of the Polish premier league, TP SA, is considering withdrawing funding. The businesspeople explain that they can’t afford jeopardising the image of their companies.

Dziennik daily writes that Poland’s President Lech Kaczynski is going to take his time before signing the Lisbon Treaty Ratification Bill, which yesterday was accepted by the Polish Senate.

First, the President wants to amend the law on co-operation between the government and both houses of parliament on issues concerning Poland’s membership in the EU, in case of any departures from the Treaty’s Ioannina mechanism - which gives nation states a blocking mechanism on decisions perceived against national interest - and the so-called ‘British protocol’ guaranteeing opt outs from the EU fundamental rights charter.

Gazeta Wyborcza publishes a new poll on political parties support. The ruling Civic Platform is still on the lead supported by 59 percent of the electorate. The largest opposition party Law and Justice can count on 23 percent of the votes. The Democratic Left Alliance, recorded still jointly with the Democratic Party as the Left Democrats (LiD) gets eight percent of the votes and the junior coalition partner, the Polish Peasants’ Party (PSL) only five percent.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

In the spotlight: Krzysztof Rutkowski

Krzysztof Rutkowski, is planning a political comeback despite facing criminal charges. According to Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, Rutkowski will run for the Krosno-Przemysl Senate seat in a by-election resulting from the death of Law and Justice senator Andrzej Mazurkiewicz.

The newspaper reported that Rutkowski was optimistic about his chances of being elected and claimed to know how to solve the region's problems. He plans to run for office on the issue of improving public safety.

Accused of corruption, as well as activity in the so-called "fuel mafia," Rutkowski was detained by agents of the Internal Security Agency in July 2006 and subsequently placed under arrest. He was released in May 2007, but his movement remained restricted by the state. Rutkowski has protested his innocence and intends to seek compensation for his arrest.

Before the scandal erupted, Rutkowski was active in Poland's political life. He ran and was elected to the Sejm from the Self-defense party's list in the 2001 parliamentary elections, but left the party's parliamentary club soon afterwards. In 2004 and 2005, he unsuccessfully ran for seats in the European Parliament and the Polish Sejm, respectively.

Born in 1960 in Teresin, in the 1980s Rutkowski was a member of the Citizens' Militia, a state police institution in the People's Republic of Poland, and served in its ZOMO paramilitary riot police unit. After the end of communism, he became a detective and owned, from 1990-2001, his own detective agency. Some of the agency's investigations were featured in the popular "Detektyw" television program broadcast by the TV station TVN. Rutkowski's work as a private detective, however, was marred by a number of court cases over allegations that he and his agency operated using illegal methods.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Polish defence minister rebukes counterintelligence officers for posting photos on community portal

Poland’s Defence Minister, Bogdan Klich, has issued an order to launch disciplinary proceedings against six officers of the new military counter-intelligence service who have uploaded photos from a secret mission to Afghanistan onto their personal accounts at, the popular school reunion website, the Polish version of Friends Reunited. Polish Radio notes that the formal application was prepared by the Army Counter-Intelligence Service (SKW). Its head reprimanded the soldiers.

Although they did not specify they worked for the SKW they made clear that the photos were taken during a military mission in Afghanistan. The pictures, which showed them sporting local robes as well as uniforms, attracted appreciative comments from their former school mates. The personal details of SKW officers are a closely guarded secret and are not even known to many Polish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. One of the tasks of the SKW is the counter-intelligence protection of Polish soldiers on missions abroad.
According to the Ministry of Defence, although the photographs and comments posted on the portal did not enable the identification of the soldiers, their conduct is nevertheless reprehensible.

The Gazeta Wyborcza has published some of the photos.

"By doing such a thing, these people endangered themselves, the soldiers and their families," Gazeta Wyborcza cites General Marek Dukaczewski, the last head of WSI, SKW's predecessor, adding: "I cannot imagine a secret operation carried out by people whose names and faces can be seen on the internet."

"I thought nothing could happen to heighten our sense of the chaos at the SKW. I was wrong," Pawel Gras, the former secret services minister, commented to the daily newspaper. SKW was established in 2006. Antoni Macierewicz, its first head, was criticized for hiring inexperienced people and dismissing seasoned former WSE officers.