Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Dispute" Over US Radar Exposes "Pettiness" of Polish Politics - Paper

In Poland, there is a problem with the [missile defence] shield decision. But there is also a bigger problem, which was spectacularly exposed by the conflict between the president and the government, as revealed by Dziennik, namely the distressingly low quality of the Polish political class - commentator Ryszard Bugaj writes in Dziennik.

It is a misunderstanding that the mainstream of the discussion about the purposefulness and conditions of a US missile defence shield installation is dominated by military aspects. This is because the political consequences of a potential decision are the key issue in this discussion. And the truth is that it is these consequences that have effects on Poland's military security.

Qui Pro Quo in Negotiations

Regrettably, the United States has many enemies. These include not only a large group of Islamic and Third World countries, but also a considerable portion of the public in Western Europe. It appears to be a fact that the US establishment has a very exploitative attitude towards Poland and a factually dubious conviction that Poland owes a lot to the United States and that we should repay this country for all this. As a consequence, the Poles who want to go the United States not only need visas, but also have to pay for them and are frequently treated in a humiliating manner. Moreover, despite its serious involvement in Iraq, Poland does not rank among the countries that the United States treats as particularly close. For example, Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by one of the world's most obscurant regimes, is higher in this hierarchy and takes advantage of considerable military assistance from the United States. Both factors have far-reaching consequences.

Agreement to host a shield in our territory is a very important change to Poland's position on the international arena. Let us say this clearly, in such a case we will be treated like a US aircraft carrier in this part of Europe. Three negative consequences seem inevitable: a potential increase in terrorist threats, a definitive freezing of bad relations with Russia, and a worse position in the EU. But is this not simultaneously a chance to find shelter under the United States' effective security umbrella? The answer to the last question cannot be unambiguous. Certainly, the stationing of the US short-range missile batteries in Poland has no decisive influence over this answer. This is, rather, a test of the United States' attitude towards Poland (whose outcome is for the time being as bad as possible), but we also have to bear in mind that the stationing of the US Patriot missiles in Poland will worsen our relations with Russia to an even greater degree, while rogue states - if they are determined to do so - may put the US defence to test... in Polish territory.

Therefore, I very much doubt whether we should host a US shield in our territory whatever the terms. This is because the most important thing for our decision is what strategy we are adopting in Poland's foreign policy, understood in the most comprehensive manner. Agreeing to host the shield could be justified with the hypothesis that Russia, as such, has a hostile attitude to independent Poland, and this is something that cannot change. The view that we have only one foot in the EU would be favourable to a "yes" decision, as is the case with scepticism about increased terrorist threats following the shield installation. This political tally must also include potentially worse relations between Poland and the United States in the case of our refusal.
Read the full text here

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Poland's top football league season postponed in wake of match-fixing scandal

The first round of Poland's top football league has been postponed due to the fallout of a match-fixing scandal.

The governing board of Poland's premier league has pushed back the start of the season after a disputed ruling by the country's highest sports arbitration court that could result in two more teams being added to the league.

Earlier this year, the Polish Football Federation relegated Widzew Lodz to the second tier after it was found guilty of match fixing.

On Wednesday, the Polish Olympic Committee's arbitration court ruled that the punishment was too severe and that the statute of limitations had expired on the offence.

That ruling has opened the door for Korona Kielce and Zaglebie Lubin, which the federation also relegated to the second tier for match-fixing, to appeal their demotion and seek reinstatement.

"The situation is unclear to the point that after the start of the season we could have to add two teams, as could happen after the tribunal's decision," league spokesman Adrian Skubis said Friday. "This forced us to delay the start of the season."

League officials hope the arbitration court will make a final decision next week. That would allow the season to open next weekend, Skubis said, with the postponed first-round games to be played in late October.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Polish newborn dies after being thrown from window

A newborn baby girl died after being thrown from a third-story window in the Polish capital, apparently by a drunken relative, police said Tuesday.

The baby was found Monday night, with the umbilical cord still attached, on the sidewalk beneath her family's apartment block in Warsaw's gritty Praga district, police spokeswoman Monika Brodowska said.

Rescuers rushed the baby to the hospital with multiple injuries, but she died soon after, she added.

Police established that the girl had been thrown from a third-floor apartment, but the occupants refused to let them in. Firefighters were called to help officers get in from the balcony, Brodowska said.

Brodowska said officers found a 34-year-old woman in the apartment, identified as Aneta W. Her "state of health signaled that she had just given birth."

The woman was taken to a hospital. The other two people in the apartment — the woman's mother, Lidia L., and husband, Zbigniew W., 40, were both detained.

They were not identified by last name, in keeping with Polish privacy laws.

The death is being treated as a murder, said Renata Mazur, a spokeswoman for regional prosecutors.

All three adults had large amounts of alcohol in their blood and prosecutors are waiting for them to sober up before questioning them to determine who threw the child out the window, Mazur and Brodowska said.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Polish man died after urinating on third rail

London authorities said a Polish tourist died of electrocution when he urinated on a live 750-volt third rail at a city railway station.

The 41-year-old man was found by rail workers after they watched him walk into a recessed area on closed circuit television and fail to emerge, The Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
It took police a week to identify the victim after the tragedy.

A source said: “Perhaps because he was from Poland he had no idea the rail was electrified. His family back home are heartbroken.”

Rail workers said the man, a schoolteacher who was believed to have been visiting London to improve his English, may not have known that some British railway tracks are electrified.

The Vauxhall station has no toilets, the newspaper said.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Poland’s IPN publishes files of 2,300 Communist-era secret services collaborators

The IPN, Institute of Public Remembrance, Poland's war and Stalinist-era crimes authority, has published on its internet site the files of some 2,300 employees and collaborators of Communist-era security services, Polish Radio reports.

The files include those of 1980s Interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak, security police chief Wladyslaw Ciaston, who had been involved in the kidnapping and murder of the Solidarity movement chaplain Jerzy Popieluszko, and around 500 other high-ranking members of the party and government administration.

The Institute has also supplemented its internet lists of persons who had been in the interest of the security services, radio adds. Among the files is that of the husband of Julia Pitera, the minister responsible for fighting corruption. A known documentary film maker, Pawel Pitera, has denied that he had ever acted as an informer for the security services in Communist times, Polish Radio says.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pregnancy no defence against arrest

Arresting pregnant women is in accordance with Constitution, says Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal.

Regulations allowing the temporary arrest of pregnant women are in accordance with the Constitution, judged the Constitutional Tribunal on Tuesday.

The issue relates to when the accountant of Marek Dochnal, a Polish businessman accused of corruption, was arrested two weeks before the planned date of birth of her baby.

Poland's ombudsman decided that the action constituted "inhumane and cruel treatment" and handed the case over to the Tribunal, the highest authority on the Constitution in Poland.

The Tribunal decided that arresting pregnant women is constitutional, however.

The law allows arresting pregnant women but if their health requires it, they can be detained in a medical institution.

Ombudsman Janusz Kochanowski challenged the law by referring it to the Constitutional Tribunal after Maria S., Marek Dochnal's accountant, was placed under arrest in 2006 despite being two weeks away from giving birth. In the end, she gave birth in prison.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sport minister to be released on bail

The District Court in Warsaw decided on Thursday to grant Tomasz Lipiec, former sport minister charged with corruption, bail of 80,000 zloty.

The Regional Court for Central Warsaw has allowed an appeal of the defence counsel on the decision of the lower court, which decided to extend Lipiec's arrest till 17 September, on the grounds that there is a high probability that he had committed the crimes he is charged of, might obstruct proceedings and faces a heavy penalty of up to ten years' imprisonment).

Lipiec was to go on trial on 29 July, but on 14 July the Regional Court appealed to remit the case to the District Court, due to its importance and complexity.

Lipiec, was sport minister under the previous Law and Justice (PiS) government, during the conflict between the government and the Polish Football Association after the then PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski suspended the executive committee, believing that they were doing too little to stamp out the spreading corruption among soccer coaches, players and officials.

Charges against him include overstepping his powers, corruption and fraud. He pleads not guilty.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two Chicogo Poles accused of using ID theft to obtain loans

Police in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines say two 41-year-old men believed to have ties to a Polish crime group used stolen identities to secure about $100,000 in loans to buy expensive cars, jet skis and all-terrain vehicles.

Artur Bledowski of Des Plaines and Grzegorz Glod (GRAY'-gorsh GLOWED) of Chicago, are each charged with four felony counts of bank fraud, ID theft, forgery and felony theft.

Des Plaines Police Commander Dan Niemann says police believe the two obtained about $25,000 in loans from four banks to buy the vehicles, which the men then shipped back to Poland.

Niemann said the men stole the identities of a Mount Prospect resident and at least two other people to get the loans.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sejm debate flares over accusations against Ziobro

A row broke on Friday amongst Sejm deputies over the accusations against former Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro
The conflict was so serious that Sejm Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski organized a vote on a motion from Law and Justice (PiS) to call for the seating of the Convent of Seniors and take a break.

The deputies, however, did not pass the motion, which led to PiS deputies walking out of the chambers. Just minutes later PiS head Jaroslaw Kaczynski, together with over 100 of his deputies, blocked the stairway in Sejm and accused Donald Tusk of violating the rules of democracy.

The former PM also demanded that the Justice Minsiter Zbigniew Cwiakalski revealed the details behind the investigation against Zbigniew Ziobro. PiS deputies have submitted a motion to the prosecutor to run an investigation into whether the accusations against Ziobro were falsified.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Law and Justice Youth Forum to sue PM’s Office

The Youth Forum of the Law and Justice (PiS) party has filed a motion with the prosecution service against officers at the Prime Minister’s Office.

In the opinion of members of the PiS Youth Forum, civil servants from the department of communications at the Prime Minister's Office have broken the law discrediting the President, Central Anticorruption Agency (CBA), National Bank of Poland (NBP) and Polish political parties by sending daily pointers by text messages to members of the Civic Platform on how to criticise and attack those institutions in the media.

The PiS Youth Forum believes the text message pointers were slanderous.

The news that the department of communications at the Prime Minister's Office sent out instructions to politicians from the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party on what they were supposed to say in the media was revealed in the Dziennik daily in July.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Crib sheets for Polish government politicians?

Opposition politicians are outraged that the government has a central communications department which makes sure ruling party members stay ‘on message’.

According to the Dziennik daily, the department of communications at the Prime Minister's Office sends out instructions to politicians belonging to the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party on what they are supposed to say in the media.

The daily writes that the instructions spell out how PO members are to criticize the President and praise PM Donald Tusk whenever they talk to the media.

The revelations have sparked fury in the opposition – the Law and Justice party demands that the PM reveal all 'cribs' sent to his party members. Head of Law and Justice parliamentary club Przemyslaw Gosiewski called the crib sheets "one of the biggest scandals of the last few years", as according to him, government institutions are being used to slander the head of state.

Michal Kaminski from the President's office said that instructions on how to criticise President Lech Kaczynski are not only outrageous but are breaking the law. He said that PM Tusk is pulling wool over the public's eyes by assuring of his will to cooperate with the president while at the same time his advisers are working on 'black PR' against the head of state.

PO's Zbigniew Chlebowski denied allegations saying that the instructions are not cribs, but a monitoring of the media. "They are not instructions for how politicians are to act. They are just a monitoring of the statements made by government and particularly Civic Platform politicians," explained Chelbowski.

But Civic Platform is not the only party that sent out such instructions to its members. At the end of last year, Gazeta Wyborcza revealed that Law and Justice issued a 'guide' on how to criticize PM Tusk.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I did inform prosecutor of Sopot corruption allegations, says Tusk

Donald Tusk has vehemently opposed accusations by Law and Justice (PiS) politicians that he failed to inform the prosecutor's office about the fact that the mayor of Sopot, northern Poland, had allegedly committed corruption.

PM Tusk stressed that a day after property deal corruption allegations concerning Mayor Jacek Karnowski reached him, he forwarded the case to Minister of Justice Zbigniew Cwiakalski. The next day he was informed that the prosecutor's office had already started investigating the case.

Tusk said explicitly, Tuesday, that he was very interested in the case being thoroughly examined, adding that Karnowski should resign as Sopot's mayor if he is indeed indicted.

A couple of days ago Karnowski suspended his party membership in Tusk’s party, the ruling Civic Platform (PO). However, Tusk is of the opinion that Karnowski should leave the party altogether and announced that he would lobby for having Karnowski removed as a member, as his conduct was dubious, to say the least.

The Polish daily Rzeczpospolita published, Monday, a transcript of a conversation between a Sopot entrepreneur and Mayor Jacek Karnowski, in which he demanded two apartments in exchange for issuing a permit to rebuild a historic tenant house.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mayor of Sopot accused of corruption

A businessman has accused Jacek Karnowski, the Mayor of Sopot, of trying to bribe him while making a property deal.

Slawomir Julke, a businessman from the seaside resort of Sopot, northern Poland, has revealed to Rzeczpospolita daily that the Mayor of Sopot, Jacek Karnowski from the ruling Civic Platform party demanded two flats from him in return for planning permission for the expansion of a residential building.

The Chairman of the Supreme Chamber of Control (NIK), Jacek Jezierski told Polish Radio One Tuesday morning he hoped that the corruption case described by Rzeczpospolita was a one-off case, but if the charges against the Sopot Mayor were corroborated, a comprehensive investigation would have to be conducted.

The head of NIK also reminded that Sopot had been subjected to many inspections, but he said another comprehensive audit in Sopot should go ahead.

The corruption case involving the Mayor of Sopot was referred to the State Prosecutor’s Office yesterday.

Jacek Kurski from the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) said he was not surprised at the media allegations regarding the Sopot Mayor’s involvement in corruption. Kurski told Polish Radio One that his party had notified prosecutors about cases of corruption among governing politicians from the Pomerania Region, northern Poland in the past.

The Mayor of Sopot Jacek Karnowski has denied the allegations.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Super Express tabloid unveils another scandal involving a Tesco supermarket in Poland

The paper describes CCTV coverage from a Tesco supermarket in Rzeszow, south-eastern Poland, showing the supermarket security officer brutally frog marching a slender female from the shop. The 29 year-old captured on video told the tabloid that she was thrown out of the shop when she reported a missing bottle of perfume that she had left in the supermarket security locker before she went shopping, in order to avoid potential accusations of theft.

“The lady’s behaviour was unacceptable. The head of security asked the woman to leave the shop. She attacked him when he was trying to march her out of the premises,” Tesco press officer Przemyslaw Skory told Super Express.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ethics to be made compulsory in Polish schools

Polish pupils will have to take religion or ethics as a compulsory school subject; prosecutor in Nangar Khel troops’ case dismissed; Tesco security frog marches innocent customer out of a Rzeszow supermarket.

Ethics will become a compulsory subject for those pupils who refuse to attend religion classes, under the provisions of the new syllabus for Polish schools to come into effect in September, Gazeta Wyborcza daily has found out. The Ministry of Education wants to oblige schools to provide pupils with a choice between RE and ethics.

The newspaper writes that as a result of the current loophole in the regulations, out of 32,000 Polish schools only 354 teach ethics and 27,000 have RE.

Karol Frankowski, the prosecutor who drafted the indictment against the Polish troops charged with the unlawful killing of Afghan civilians in the Nangar Khel killing case has been dismissed from his position for procedural errors included in the indictment, reports Dziennik daily.

Although the spokesman of the Justice Ministry has denied that the errors included in the documentation were the reason for Frankowski’s dismissal, the daily informs that according to unofficial sources, the prosecutor lost his job because material evidence had been omitted from the indictment, including an American report regarding the communication among the Taliban confirming that the Polish troops had been shelled by Taliban terrorists before they carried out the mortar assault on the village.

Super Express tabloid unveils another scandal involving a Tesco supermarket in Poland.
  • Note: Polish Ethics? Sounds like an oximoron to me.
  • Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Exeter rapist to serve time in Poland

    Jakub Tomczak, sentenced by a British court to double life imprisonment for rape is returning to Poland to do time.

    "According to declarations made by the British side, Tomczak will come back to Poland in about 14 days,” said Grzegorz Zurawski, spokesman for the Polish Ministry of Justice.

    Jakub Tomczak was handed over to the British authorities last autumn after a European Arrest Warrant was issued after him on the condition that if sentenced he would be able to serve time Poland.

    The British court sentenced Tomczak from Poznan, western Poland - at the time a university student - to double life imprisonment for raping and causing permanent bodily harm to a 48-year-old female inhabitant of Exeter, western England, in July 2006. The jury declared him guilty by 11 to votes to one.

    The trial received massive coverage in the Polish media as well as in the local media in Exeter.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Mother gets 25 years for killing five newborns

    The Circuit Court in Lublin, eastern Poland, has sentenced Jolanta K. to 25 years imprisonment for killing her five newborn children.

    Her husband was declared not guilty of the crime that shocked Poland.

    Reasons for the judgment were not made public for the sake of the other children of Jolanta K. Both the prosecution and defence may now appeal.

    The gruesome murders were brought to light after Andrzej K., the defendant's husband, was making sauerkraut and ordered his sons to get him a barrel to put it in. While the boys were moving the barrel, the lid fell off revealing two plastic bags with the remains of the babies inside.

    The investigation shed more light on the details of the murders, which happened between the years 1992-1998, when the couple was living in Lublin, eastern Poland.

    Jolanta K. killed four of her sons and one daughter claiming she was forced to do so by her husband who abused her. Each time she gave birth at home in a bathtub she then drowned the baby, and put the body in the freezer.

    When a couple of years later the family moved to Czerniejow, near Lublin, the woman moved the bodies into a barrel.

    Feminist organizations were appalled at the strict sentence and sent a letter of protest to the minister of justice signed by over 20 organizations and individuals demanding the sentence be mitigated to five years imprisonment and that the husband be declared the main perpetrator. They claim, quoting one of the experts at the trial, that Andrzej K. must have known about the pregnancies and therefore the murders.

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    State pays fines rather than employ disabled

    The Polish state prefers to pay millions of zloty in fines rather than employ the disabled.

    Instead of employing the disabled, government offices and ministries prefer to spend millions from public finances on fines, reports the Rzeczpospolita daily.

    The amounts are staggering. Last year, ministries paid a total of 6.5 million zloty in fees to the State Fund for Rehabilitation of People with Disabilities (PFRON) for not employing enough disabled people.

    The Finance Ministry alone paid 1.2 million zloty.

    The Ministry of Labour and Social policy employs the most people with disabilities (17), which is still three times less than required by law.

    The Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as the Ministry of Justice, hire no disabled people at all. Other state-owned entities are not much better - the Social Insurance Company (ZUS) pays 2 mln zloty in fines a month; the Polish Post paid 67 mln zloty in 2007.

    Employers hiring more than 25 employees must take care that at least six percent of them are people with disabilities. If they do not meet the requirement, they must pay an obligatory fee to PFRON. The fee is calculated in proportion to the number of employees, therefore it is no wonder that in big institutions, hiring thousands, the penalties add up to millions.

    Jaroslaw Duda, government plenipotentiary for disabled people, wants to make the state offices stop the practice.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Man faces jail for cutting of duck's head

    A man from Warsaw who cut of a duck's head "for fun" during a drinking binge is facing up to two years' imprisonment.

    The 33-year-old was drinking alcohol with friends close to a pond in Wolomin, near Warsaw. All of a sudden, he grabbed a duck, cut of its head and threw the dead bird into the pond.

    The police arrested the man after being informed of the incident by a chance witness.

    This is another instance of cruelty to animals in Poland that came to light in the last few days. Journalists from Lublin, south-eastern Poland, recently revealed a shocking video they received from an anonymous source made by three teenagers showing how they tortured a puppy.

    Earlier this year, tourists in the mountains in the south of the country were convicted for killing a bear cub.

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    Poland's top 1,000 companies run by the secret service?

    The former head of the committee for verification of the Military Intelligence Services (WSI) Antoni Macierewicz announced in an interview for Rzeczpospolita that the Constitutional Tribunal is protecting secret agents
    The former head of the committee for verification of the Military Intelligence Services (WSI) Antoni Macierewicz announced in an interview for Rzeczpospolita that the Constitutional Tribunal is protecting secret agents of special services by declaring relevant resolutions.

    He also continued to claim that the 1,000 most important companies in Poland are being run by people connected with the secret services. In the interview it was revealed that the controversial annex to the report on the WSI will be made public by President Lech Kaczynski.

    Moreover, Macierewicz claimed that there is a connection between the sudden removal of the documents related to the WSI report and the crises in the negotiations with the US administration on the anti-missile shield.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Art vandal Polish MEP's diplomatic immunity

    The European Parliament has decided to waive the diplomatic immunity of Polish MEP Witold Tomczak, accused of destroying a work of art in a gallery in Warsaw worth 40,000 zloty.

    The art work in question was a statue of Pope John Paul II being crushed by a meteor.

    The decision to waive Tomczak's immunity was first made on 25 June by a European Parliament committee. The MEPs have now formally confirmed it by an overwhelming majority during a session in Strasbourg.

    Tomczak destroyed "La Nona Ora" by Maurizio Cattelan when it was on display at the Zacheta gallery in Warsaw in 2000. The politician, who then belonged to the catholic-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR), came into the gallery and removed the art work, resulting in the statue's leg falling off.

    The work of art was then withdrawn from the exhibition.

    Tomczak explained that he did it in the name of his beliefs and that his voters expected him to do so.

    This is the second time that the European Parliament has agreed to waive Tomczak's immunity - the first time in February. Tomczak was then charged with insulting police officers in 1999 and breaking traffic regulations.

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    Former Justice Minister to lose immunity

    The Ministry Of Justice has received a motion for stripping parliamentary immunity of former Justice Minister, currently Law and Justice (PiS) MP, Zbigniew Ziobro.

    When the Justice Minister signs the motion, it will be submitted to the Lower House, the Sejm, for further consideration. If Zbigniew Ziobro loses his MP immunity and is charged with ‘abusing his powers as a public officer’, he may be sentenced to up to three years imprisonment.

    “This is just revenge for my determination to combat corruption,” Ziobro commented on the prosecutors’ motion.

    “I am not going to hide behind the immunity”, he added.

    Rzeczpospolita daily has found out unofficially that the Prosecutor’s Office from Plock, central Poland, wants to rid the former Justice Minister of his parliamentary immunity in order to hold him responsible for disclosing secret court records to his party chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in 2006.

    The court records included an investigation conducted by the Plock prosecution into a contract signed in 2003 between the Polish state-owned energy company PGNiG and a Hungarian paper tiger Eural Trans Gas, controlled by Semion Mogilevich, who is believed to control the largest Russian mafia syndicate in the world.

    In the records were depositions of a businessman and former Polish Deputy Labour Minister Krzysztof Baszniak, who claimed that huge bribes were involved in a contract between the Polish state-owned oil company Orlen and the Russian Yukos Oil Company.

    In 2006, Baszniak told investigators that the bribes could have amounted to 16,000,000 dollars and had been divided between the former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former PM Leszek Miller (formerly from the Democratic Left - SLD).

    According to Rzeczpospolita’s information, Baszniak’s depositions had been left untouched until May 2007 and no charges have been presented to date.

    The motion for stripping immunity of Zbigniew Ziobro includes charges regarding “overstepping authority by a civil servant”, the Press Officer from the Plock Prosecutor’s Office told Rzeczpospolita.

    According to the current Justice Minister, Zbigniew Cwiakalski, Ziobro had no right to disclose any of the court records to Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

    “It wasn’t a coincidence that he took the records to the chairman of his political party,” Zbigniew Cwiakalski told Radio Zet.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Pole busted with heroin in Vancouver successfully blames son

    A mother who blamed her son for her troubles has been acquitted by a jury of smuggling two kilograms of heroin into the Vancouver airport in gifts wrapped for Christmas.

    Krystyna Raczkowska, 52, was arrested after she and her 29-year-old son, Wiktor Raczkowski, returned home Dec. 24, 2006, after a short trip to Poland to visit relatives.

    The jury heard from Crown witnesses the mother was seen tugging her clothing, crossing her arms and talking continuously as she waited to pick up her luggage.

    A search revealed drugs with an estimated street value of $400,000 concealed at the base of two ceramic pots wrapped as presents and carried in the mother's suitcase.

    Raczkowska was charged with possession of heroin for the purpose of trafficking and importing heroin into Canada.

    Crown counsel Edlyn Laurie told a B.C. Supreme Court jury in Vancouver the mother had full knowledge of the drugs in her possession and was therefore guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

    But Raczkowska testified that the evening before they left Warsaw there was "lots of commotion" in the house and presents were being wrapped and placed in suitcases.

    "She testified that when she was told she had narcotics in the suitcase she was surprised and confused," said B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Kristi Gill in her charge to the jury Wednesday.

    "She denied being aware that narcotics were in her suitcase . . . and at the conclusion of her evidence she told you that she blamed her son."

    Jacqueline Perciival, her lawyer, told the jury the son had "arranged" for the drug transaction and "that he used his mother," noted the judge.

    Raczkowski was arrested and charged with the same offences as his mother but the Crown stayed the charges.

    Both mother and son had prior criminal records.

    The judge instructed the jury that Raczkowska's convictions for possession of narcotics and possession of property obtained for crime could be used only to determine her credibility, not her guilt.

    The verdict came after a four-day trial and a little more than a day of deliberations by the jury.

    Tuesday, July 08, 2008

    Homeless people die after bird flu vaccine trial in Poland

    Three Polish doctors and six nurses are facing criminal prosecution after a number of homeless people died following medical trials for a vaccine to the H5N1 bird-flu virus.
    The medical staff, from the northern town of Grudziadz, are being investigated over medical trials on as many as 350 homeless and poor people last year, which prosecutors say involved an untried vaccine to the highly-contagious virus.

    Authorities claim that the alleged victims received ?1-2 to be tested with what they thought was a conventional flu vaccine but, according to investigators, was actually an anti bird-flu drug.

    The director of a Grudziadz homeless centre, Mieczyslaw Waclawski, told a Polish newspaper that last year, 21 people from his centre died, a figure well above the average of about eight.

    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Hash smugglers in Poland indicted

    The Prosecutor's Office in Gdansk has forwarded an indictment against four men charged with trafficking 1.5 tonnes of hash from Morocco to Poland.

    The prosecutor's office is accusing the four traffickers, two dual citizens of Germany and Poland and two Polish citizens, of organizing the transfer of 1.5 tonnes of hashish in the spring of last year.

    The drugs were found in a freight of tiles shipped from Casablanca to Gdynia, northern Poland, from where it was to be transported to the Netherlands via Germany.

    The traffickers thought they managed to avoid customs control after bribing a customs officer with 10,000 euros. However, the customs officer was cooperating, secretly, with the Polish police.

    The traffickers are now facing up to 15 years in prison.

    The Polish customs services estimates the worth of the drugs at 44 million zlotys, or approximately 12 million euros.

    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    Three Cheers for Polish Old and young

    Gdansk area police have stopped a gang of three underage thieves and their 18-year-old fence who robbed guests in local vacation centres.

    According to investigators, the boys, aged 9, 13 and 14, spent the cash they stole on entertainment and handed the rest of their loot to the 18-year-old, who was to sell it on internet auctions. The two older boys are also suspected of attempting to extort PLN 10,000 from a local woman by threatening to blow up her home. The 18-year-old faces up to five years in prison for trading stolen goods, while the youths will answer to a court for minors.

    In a related story, A 71-year-old woman from the north-western town of Slawno may spend the next five years in prison after she stole her caretaker’s mobile phone. Before letting her off for the day, Genowefa L. asked the woman to take out the trash. When she got back, the victim noticed that her phone was missing and called the police. Investigators quickly located the phone by dialling its number, when it started ringing inside the elderly thief’s locked cupboard.

    Saturday, July 05, 2008

    Tribunal rules WSI report a violation of human rights

    The Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Friday night that the publication of the report on verification of the Military Intelligence Services (WSI) prepared by Antoni Macierewicz in 2007 violated the standards of a democratic state and fundamental human rights
    The Tribunal declared that people who were mentioned in the report as perpetrators or people who helped in the criminal activities of WSI had no chance of explaining themselves before the publication.

    There was no court control over the publication that declared numerous people as guilty who were not even able to check the sources of such accusations. The verdict will have an impact on the annex to the report, which was also prepared by Macierewicz and delivered to President Lech Kaczynski several months ago.

    The Tribunal ruled that the annex cannot be published until the bill on the report contains relevant guarantees concerning human rights.

    Friday, July 04, 2008

    Poland most aided new EU state

    Poland received two billion Euros from Brussels more in 2007 than in the previous year.

    Poland's total aid was 5 billion euros net from the EU budget last year, more than any other EU new member state.

    However, Poland pales in comparison with other EU countries, when it comes to funds management, ranking third from bottom, together with the Czech Republic, and leaving only Cyprus and Holland behind.

    Dalia Grybauskaite, EU commissioner for budget issues, admitted that Poland has speeded up the spending recently but it still had a major backlog to deal with. Poland has spent just 63 percent of the funds allocated to it since its accession in 2004.

    However, she praised Poland for the current progress, adding that Brussels publishes data on how member states spend money from the EU budget, to promote effectiveness in spending.

    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    Expert institute to be set up to help tackle Polish economic crime

    The Justice Ministry is failing to catch and punish economic crimes, as the investigations take a long time and courts find it difficult to understand the evidence
    The Justice Ministry is failing to catch and punish economic crimes, as the investigations take a long time and courts find it difficult to understand the evidence.

    The Ministry is planning to change the situation by establishing an Institute of Economic-Financial Expertise (IEE-F), which should employ the best experts for finances, the bourse and the economy. The Institute would give analytical and expert support for prosecutors and courts from all over the country.

    "The intentions of the minister are noble, but I do not know whether such an institute, which will be run by the Justice Ministry, will turn out to be impartial. Especially as, so far, the functions of the general prosecutor and the justice minister have not yet been separated," said Jacek Socha, the former chairman of the Financial Supervision Commission (KNF) and a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

    Robert Gwiazdowski, an expert at Adam Smith Center, added, "I do not think this is the best idea. I do not believe that the salaries at the Institute would be attractive enough to tempt market specialists. Moreover, I do not believe that an employee of the Institute who would be a subordinate of the general prosecutor can remain independent."

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    Polish MP faces ten years imprisonment in corruption case

    The State Prosecutor's Office has forwarded a formal indictment against former MP Beata Sawicka to the Circuit Court in Poznan, western Poland.

    The former MP is suspected of incitement and inducement to corruption and of paid protection, accepting financial gain in connection with 'setting up' a tender on a plot of land.

    She now faces up to 10 years in prison.

    Former MP Sawicka and the mayor of the town Hel, northern Poland, were detained after allegedly taking a bribe in a 'sting' operation prepared by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) on October 1 last year.

    The case catered for a great deal of attention in the Polish media, with Sawicka accusing CBA officers of going beyond their powers. She has also cried and once fainted at a press conference and hinted at thought of suicide.

    Recently, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza alleged the possible involvement of the American FBI in the corruption case.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    CIA agents admit their jails were in Poland for three years

    American CIA agents told the New York Times that the most important CIA jails were located in Poland for about three years. The country was chosen as it had no cultural or religious links with Al Qaeda, which limited the risk of infiltration or attack from its supporters. "What is even more important, Polish agents were willing to cooperate," said a CIA agent.

    "This news does not surprise me, as this confirms what we were saying for a long time," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. He added that he did not understand why Polish authorities denied the truth, if it was going to be revealed sooner or later.

    "Since President Bush admitted that such centers existed, there is no need to deny it. Until the authorities confirm it, we shall not know the truth," said former head of the National Security Agency

    Polish gov't denies NY Times report on CIA prisons

    In a related story, After the New York Times once again reported on the alleged existence of secret prisons of CIA located in Poland, where Al-Qaeda terrorists were to be tortured, Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said that this was an attempt to discredit Poland in the eyes of the international public opinion.

    "It is an attempt to question the position of Poland as a country where international standards are being violated," said the Minister.

    Moreover, the Presidential Palace issued a communique declaring, "The President possesses no information which would indicate that there are secret CIA prisons, where terrorists would be allegedly held," said Minister Michal Kaminski.

    The Defense Minister also criticized the report which stated that Poland wanted to cooperate with the US administration and even could have been regarded as the '51st state'.