Friday, May 23, 2008

First Politician Jailed in Sex Scandal

A Lodz court on Monday sentenced the first of three politicians accused in the sex-for-jobs scandal that helped bring down Poland’s last coalition government, signalling there may be trouble ahead for two of the party’s leaders who are also on trial.

Samoobrona (Self-Defence) rural protest party official Jacek Popecki was sentenced to 28 months in jail for giving a woman, who had accused his party’s boss of fathering her child, drugs to induce a miscarriage.

In late 2006, Aneta Krawczyk accused the party’s firebrand leader Andrzej Lepper of having offered her political favours for sex in 2001, and then said he had been the father of her youngest child. She said the same of Lepper’s close collaborator and MP, Stanislaw Lyzwinski, and accused him of rape and sexual abuse. She also said that Popecki, who had been Lyzwinski’s aid, had tried to induce a miscarriage by giving her a labour-inducing drug called oxytocin.

Lepper and Lyzwinski both stand accused of extorting “favours of a sexual nature” from Krawczyk and face up to eight and ten years in jail respectively if convicted. Prosecutors had sought a four-year sentence for Popecki.

“The evidence given by the victim [Krawczyk], which is largely backed up by testimony from two witnesses and phone billings as well as the behaviour of the accused after these events, points to [Popecki’s] guilt,” the court said on Monday.

After Krawczyk’s initial lodging of charges, DNA tests showed that neither Lepper nor Lyzwinski had fathered her child, but testimony from other women convinced prosecutors to push on with the investigation in what became known as the “sex for work” scandal.

The trial was conducted behind closed doors to protect the victim’s privacy, even though Krawczyk originally accused Lyzwinski and Lepper in the glare of television floodlights. The revelations came while the party was part of a coalition headed by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) and was among a series of public rows that led finally to the downfall of their government.