Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ziobro gives up parliamentary immunity

Former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro (PiS) has released his parliamentarian immunity, allowing the public prosecutor's office to charge him with exceeding his ministerial power while in office in 2006.

The resignation of immunity comes after the Parliamentary Regulations Committee reopened the case this morning.

MP Jaroslaw Urbaniak (Civic Platform - PO), presented the Sejm, the lower house of parliament with the charges brought against the former justice minister.

In July this year, the Rzeczpospolita daily wrote that the Prosecutor’s Office from Plock, central Poland, wanted to take away Ziobro’s parliamentary immunity, in order to charge him for allegedly disclosing secret court records to his party chairman, Jaroslaw Kaczynski in 2006.

The confidential files included depositions of a businessman and former Polish Deputy Labour Minister Krzysztof Baszniak, who claimed that huge bribes had been involved in a contract between the state-owned Orlen and Russian Yukos Oil in 2003 when the post-communist SLD was in power.

Urbaniak argued that the Polish Constitution stipulates that “all citizens are equal before the law” and that “no one can hide behind an MP’s immunity”.

He also criticised the incident at the previous meeting of the Regulations Committee in July, when the Committee members from the Law and Justice (PiS) left the conference room in protest against government counterparts, who wanted to proceed in spite of Ziobro’s absence.

Zbigniew Ziobro, initially present at today’s meeting, left the conference room once again, in protest at Jaroslaw Urbaniak’s speech.

In a related story, Former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro claims his statements accusing Doctor Miroslaw G of murder were taken out of context.

Doctor G. has accused former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro of defamation and demands an apology and 70,000 zloty in compensation after comments he made last year when the doctor was arrested for corruption and murder.

Ziobro said after the famous Warsaw based surgeon was arrested on murder charges subsequently dropped: "This man will never take someone's life again.”

During yet another day of the trial, the judge ordered a 3,5-hour recess, Monday. A few days ago, the representatives of the politician submitted such extensive pleading that the court gave the surgeon's representative time to get acquainted with it. The heart surgeon did not appear in court, though the former minister did.

Zbigniew Ziobro told journalists that the pleading includes evidence that his statement was taken out of context and misinterpreted. He said that during the press conference when he said those words, he repeated several times that he was talking only of the charges against Miroslaw G., not facts. The politician also blamed journalists for blowing the case out of proportion.

Heart surgeon Miroslaw G. was detained by the Central Anticorruption Bureau in March last year on corruption and murder charges. He was then the head of the heart surgery unit at Warsaw's Internal Ministry Hospital. He is now charged with, among others, corruption and mobbing, but the District Public Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw dropped the murder charges against him.