Friday, October 31, 2008

‘Szkatuly’ gang arrested in Warsaw

Police from the Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBS) arrested 10 members of one of Warsaw’s largest drug gangs that operates under the pseudonym ‘Szkatuly.’

Mariusz Sokolowski, spokesperson for Police Headquarters said that the CBS operation resulted in the arrest of the gang’s ‘captain’ and nine ‘soldiers.’ The gang produces and sells narcotics on a massive scale.

Amongst those arrested is a female member of ‘Szkatuly’ who is responsible for running an escort service in Warsaw.

The police and CBS confiscated approximately 200,000 zloty (54,000 euro) worth of cash and vehicles.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Poland's federation holds key election to tackle corruption

Under scrutiny from FIFA, UEFA and Polish authorities, Poland's corruption-riddled PZPN football federation is set to elect new leaders Thursday expected to red card graft as Poland gears up to co-host Euro-2012 with Ukraine.

"Polish football is a mass of financial scandals, corruption and fraud", Poland's iconic 1970's goalie Jan Tomaszewski told AFP.

He is among the strongest critics of the PZPN's current leadership, but he is by no means alone. The Polish media, politicians and fans also generally believe the Polish federation needs an overhaul.

"The most popular slogan in Polish stadiums is 'Down with the PZPN'," Tomaszewski said.

A row over how to clean-up the federation between the Polish government and world and Europe football authorities FIFA and UEFA came to a head in early October.

Asked to do so by Poland's Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki, a Polish Olympic Committee arbitration tribunal installed an administrator to head the PZPN.

Adamant to preserve the independence of national football federations, FIFA and UEFA immediately threatened to suspend Poland from 2010 World Cup qualifiers and even to review the decision for Poland to hold the Euro 2012 championships.

Poland backed down and agreed to pull the administrator from the PZPN and for elections to flesh out a new leadership on October 30.

A fresh round of legal action against senior PZPN officials came last week, with corruption charges pressed against Poland's former national team manager Janusz Wojcik and PZPN Secretary-General Zdzislaw Krecina, one of the four candidates standing in the body's Thursday leadership race.

A total of 158 people -- including referees, players, club officials and PZPN members -- have now been snared in a vast football graft probe.

Repeated match-fixing scandals have plagued all levels of the league for years.

Polish tax authorities also seized 2.3 million euros in unpaid taxes from PZPN coffers this week.

According to sports ministry officials, the corruption probe against the PZPN will last for "several months".

Sports minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki said he wanted certainty that all senior PZPN leaders are in the clear and called on candidates in the election to make sure they "have nothing on their conscience".

"If they do, it will be an embarrassment for them and for Polish football when the police and prosecutors will arrest PZPN senior officials," Drzewiecki warned.

"The elections will be a turning point in Polish football," according to PZPN spokesperson Zbigniew Kozminski.

"As a fan, I have my doubts," Poland's Interior Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said. Both he and football-mad liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk are known to regularly play in matches.

"Polish football is a social disease, like alcoholism. We can beat it, but we need to be calm and patient," says Michal Kleiber, president of the independent electoral committee called by FIFA, UEFA, the PZPN and the Polish government to supervise Thursday's election.

Four candidates are in the running for the PZPN's presidency including two former Polish international players Grzegorz Lato and Zbigniew Boniek.

It remains unclear to what extent the situation within PZPN may wreak havoc with Poland's Euro 2012 preparations.

According to Minister Drzewiecki everything is proceeding according to plan.

"At the current phase of preparations the main responsibility rests with the government. It's not the PZPN that is building stadiums, airports, hotels and other infrastructures for Euro-2012," he told AFP.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Police detain former Polish national coach Wojcik

Polish police have detained former national team coach Janusz Wojcik in connection with an ongoing corruption investigation in Polish football.

Police took Wojcik into custody at his Warsaw home on Wednesday morning, national police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said.

Wojcik coached the Polish team that won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and later headed the senior national squad from 1997-1999. He was also a member of Poland's parliament from 2005 to 2007.

Wojcik was expected to be taken to Wroclaw later Wednesday for further questioning.

The Wroclaw prosecutors office, which launched an investigation into match-fixing in Polish football in 2005, said it planned to charge Wojcik either later Wednesday or early Thursday. The office said Wojcik will face 11 charges but declined to give details.

Prosecutors also said police had detained a Polish Football Federation official responsible for observing and rating referees during domestic league matches.

Authorities identified the man as Krzysztof P., in line with Polish privacy laws.

So far, Wroclaw prosecutors have charged 153 people — including members of the Polish Football Federation, coaches, referees, players and club officials — with fixing matches in the top domestic leagues.

In a separate investigation, Wroclaw prosecutors on Wednesday charged Zdzislaw Krecina, the secretary general of the Polish FA, with mismanagement tied to debt payments.

Krecina is running for president of the Polish FA in the trouble federation's Oct. 30 elections. It was not immediately clear what impact the charges would have on his candidacy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'Road pirate' clocks up 28 offences during police chase

A 23-year old driver from Belchatow, central Poland, managed to break 28 regulations when being chased by police.

The driver, who was eventually stopped by police, had managed to clock up 144 penalty points (the maximum limit in Poland being 21 before a licence is taken away).

The event happened during the afternoon hours on Monday after police wanted to stop the car for a routine check. When flagged down to stop, the car, which had invalid number plates, sped up.

After committing a total of 28 serious driving offences, police finally stopped the "road pirate" in Rzasawa, a few kilometres away from Belchatow. It so transpired that the driver not only did not have necessary documents, such as registration and insurance, but did not have a driving licence at all.

In addition to not having any right to drive, the 23-year old was found to have over 2 per mil of alcohol in his blood, over 10 times the limit. He faces a jail sentence of up to 8 years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Geriatric Pole stabs fellow patient in hospital

A man aged 102 stabbed a fellow patient, aged 65, in a hospital in Elblag, northern Poland.

It is still not known why the elderly patient decided to knife his neighbour in the hospital ward. The incident happened on Monday evening, when the 102-year old stabbed another patient in the back.

The 65-year old victim has been taken into intensive care, and his situation is stable, doctors say.

Meanwhile the geriatric stabber was taken into custody and transferred to a psychiatric ward at the military hospital in Elblag. Tests on the man have shown that he suffers from depression and dementia.

The 102-year old will be interrogated by police when doctors believe it will be safe to do so. Police believe the patient will give his reasons for the sudden attack. The knife-wielding geriatric may serve up to 5 years in prison for his actions.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

25 years behind bars for death of football fan

A court of appeal in Bialystok, north-east Poland, has convicted a 20-year old man with the murder of a football fan.

Adrian Grygorczuk was put on trial for assisting the murder of a fan of one of Bialystok’s football clubs. It is the second time Grygorczuk has been on trial for the same offence. The first sentence was 15 years, but the court of first instance overuled the decision, suggesting a longer jail sentence.

In handing out the verdict, the Bialystok court said that even though 25 years is the longest possible sentence for such a crime, it was justified due to the demoralised character of Grygorczuk.

“It is a banishment from society, although the role of the court is to protect society from such wrongdoers,” judge Andrzej Czapka said after the court hearing. He added that the victim had no chance of survival after he was attacked by four football hooligans.

Judge Czapka noted that Grygorczuk already had suspended sentences for violence, and that he “has no sense of guilt”.

All the way through the trial, the accused pleaded only to battery, and not to murder. He apologised to his 19-year old victim’s parents after the trial was concluded.

Two other members of the gang that killed the football fan are serving sentences of 13 and 15 years. The search is on for the fourth member, and a European arrest warrant is out for his capture.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ex-soldier jailed for slaughter of paedo friend

A FORMER soldier who battered his housemate to death after the victim admitted raping a five year old girl was today jailed for life.

Wojciech Sokolowski, 35, buried the body of Jurij Grigorjev in a shallow grave in their back garden in Wembley Park Drive.

When the house was sold the 28-year-old victim's skull was found in the undergrowth by a twelve-year-old boy.

Ordering Sokolowski to serve a minimum of 16 years before he can be considered for parole Judge Timothy Pontius said: 'Whether or not Mr Grigorjev was a paedophile we cannot be sure, although evidence from a number of witnesses tends to support the suggestion he may have been.

“If he was, that provided no excuse whatsoever for what you did.”

The two men had been drinking together at the house on the night of January 14 last year when Grigorjev had confessed to friends he liked to have sex with children and bragged about raping the little girl.

Sokolowski, who is 6ft 5ins, weighs 18 stone and has served in the Polish army, has an eight-year-old daughter and angrily accused him of being a paedophile.

He attacked the victim with his open palms, fists and knees as he sat on the sofa in the living room.

Others in the room tried to stop him but they could not prevent the Pole from battering the victim to death, the Old Bailey heard.

One housemate said the victim's face was “all mashed up” and Sokolowski had blood on his arms up to the elbow, and he shouted insults at his victim even as he sat senseless on the sofa.

Later that night, together with at least two other men, Sokolowski dragged the body into the huge garden at the back of the house, and a piece of bloodstained carpet was cut out and thrown away and the walls were cleaned.

Sokolowski was later seen with mud on his clothes and apologised to the other residents for “what had been going on”.

When the body was discovered in August last year parts of the dead man's jeans and pants were still on his body, and there was even a ?5 note in the pocket of his leather jacket.

His teeth were chipped and several of his ribs were fractured but the cause of death could not be ascertained.

Sokolowski, who has his daughter's name tattooed on his arm, had moved a few streets away to Grasmere Road and he was arrested nearby on December 11, almost a year after the killing.

The Pole claimed he had been at the house but had left before the attack and said witnesses who saw him killing the victim had lied.

Charles Miskin, defending, said: “The evidence of witnesses suggest there was some level of provocation, words which sparked a chance quarrel.”

Mr Miskin read from the impact statement of the victim's mother who said: “I knew my son does not have a very even temper.

“He liked to be involved in conflict. I was afraid he would kill someone when he was fighting with others.”

He added: “There was an explosive cocktail that night. These were all men who were living on the edge of society with no real security.”

Sokolowski bowed his head as the judge said: “I am prepared to accepte for the purpose of sentence that you did not specifically intend to kill Jurij Grigorjev.

“However, on the jury's verdict you clearly intended to hurt him very badly.

“You may well have been influenced by alcohol which is no excuse at all.

“I do accept that lost your temper fuelled by drink when you heard what apparently he had admitted. Then you beat him very severely.

“The single aggravating feature and it is a significant one is having realised you had killed your victim you set about attempting to conceal your crime by burying his body in the ground in a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility for his death.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

17 hurt in Polish train crash

Two trains collided at a station in southern Poland, injuring 17 people, and police said Saturday they detained two rail traffic controllers.
An intercity train from Warsaw to Bielsko-Biala was on the wrong track at Ligota station in Katowice when it collided Friday evening with a local train that was about to depart, Katowice police spokesman Jacek Pytel said.

He said two rail traffic controllers on duty at the time were detained on suspicion that they were responsible for the collision, and said that one of them was drunk.

Seven people remained hospitalized on Saturday, Pytel said.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Polish father shoots son because "I thought he was a boar

A 61-year old from Krotoszyn, western Poland, accidentally shot his 36-year old son on a hunting trip during the weekend.

The tragedy happened in a cornfield in Chachalnia, around 5km south of Krotoszyn. Local police have said that the death was unintentional.

The father added that he heard a rustling in the field very similar to that of a wild boar, and shot at the area where the sound was coming from.

An immediate rescue attempt by a medical team was unsuccessful, and the son died in situ. Police have said that the father was sober, and both had gun and hunting permits.

Another reason given for the death was due to heavy fog in the area at the time of the tragedy.

The father has as yet not been charged by police.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Simon Mol dies in hospital

Simon Mol, the Cameroonian charged with intentionally infecting several Polish women with HIV, died in a hospital, Saturday night.

Last week Mol’s trial was suspended due to his ill health after being released from detention in September and transported to one of Warsaw’s hospitals. Medical staff described his condition, linked to his HIV infection, as “critical”. Reputedly M. refused to undergo medical treatment.

The public prosecutor’s office in Poland established that the Cameroonian infected over 40 women with HIV. He himself claimed that he was not aware of his condition.

He was arrested in January 2007. The trial, which began in July this year involved a total of 13 charges levelled against him – 11 in connection with intentionally infecting women with HIV, one of exposing a women to the disease, and one of possessing cold weapon without a permit. He was facing 10 years in prison.

The Cameroonian first arrived in Poland in 1999. He claimed to be a political refugee and that he was persecuted in Cameroon for publishing an article on a corruption scandal in the government. However, Polish media reported later on that his life history was to a great extent a fabricatio

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pig’s head scores point

The crisis in Polish football took an unexpected turn last Wednesday when MP Janusz Palikot brandished a pig's head on a late night television show saying “this is for the PZPN (Polish Football Federation) mafia”. The previous week the government had suspended the board of the PZPN and appointed its own director in Prime Minister Donald Tusk's crusade against corruption in the domestic league. The suspension jeopardised Poland's participation in the 2010 World Cup and its hosting of the 2012 European Championship when FIFA and UEFA demanded the board to be reinstated. However, football's world and European governing bodies subsequently relented after receiving letters from both the ministry and the federation that, FIFA said, showed a “positive evolution” of the situation between government and the PZPN. A telephone poll conducted the day after Palikot's grotesque stunt revealed that while 51% of respondents thought the politician had “gone too far”, 48% thought he was right to do what he did.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poland risks Euro 2012 over government meddling

Poland risks losing the right to co-host Euro 2012 after FIFA and UEFA said on Tuesday that football's governing bodies do not recognise the administrator appointed by the Polish government to run the country's FA.

"FIFA and UEFA will immediately start joint consultation to decide the measures to be taken regarding the PZPN (FA) and the future of Polish football, and to be proposed to the forthcoming meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich on (October) 23-24," FIFA and UEFA said in a joint statement.

A FIFA spokesman confirmed that under FIFA rules one of the range of measures available to the world governing body is suspension from all levels of the game. If suspended, Poland risks losing the right to co-host Euro 2012 alongside Ukraine.

"We cannot speculate on what might or might not happen. We must wait and see what happens at the meeting next month," a UEFA spokesman said.

"But this is the most serious situation that can happen and, of course, we are very concerned about the situation since Poland is hosting Euro 2012."

The management board of the Polish FA was suspended on Monday by the country's arbitration tribunal at the request of Warsaw's sports ministry in an anti-corruption drive. Robert Zawlocki was appointed as an administrator in their place.

"FIFA and UEFA continue to recognise the current leadership of the PZPN chaired by Michal Listkiewicz as the only legitimate authority to run football in Poland and to represent it internationally," the FIFA/UEFA statement said.

"As a consequence, any letter, correspondence and/or communication...that is signed under the authority of Mr Robert Zawlocki, will be ignored and considered irrelevant."

FIFA rules do not allow government interference in the running of its associations. Poland was warned in 2007 it risked suspension after the government appointed a commissioner as head of the FA in a previous crackdown on corruption.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Three charged in Polish football corruption case

Polish police have arrested three people in connection with an ongoing football corruption investigation.

According to Edward Zalewski of the Wroclaw District Attorney’s office, the Central Corruption Bureau, on the recommendation of his office, arrested two active playesrs and one coach. Zalewski did not want to comment further as to the identity of the arrested or what region of Poland they are from.

Two club officials and a coach were charged with handing out bribes worth more than 100,000 zlotys (US$40,000) between 2003 and 2006, the prosecutor's office in the western Polish city of Wroclaw said.

The office declined to provide further details of Wednesday's arrests.

Wroclaw prosecutors launched an investigation in 2005 into corruption in Polish football.

Today’s arrests follow accusations by the Polish Sports Ministry that the PZPN is not doing enough to eliminate corruption. The Ministry suspended the management board of the PZPN, which caused backlash from UEFA and FIFA.

So far they have charged 153 people — including members of the Polish Soccer Federation, coaches, referees, players and club officials — with fixing matches in the top domestic leagues.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poland improves on corruption, but still worst in EU

Poland is the most corrupt EU country, according to an index of the most corrupt countries in the world
Poland shared 58th place with Turkeyand Lithuania in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

The index, published each year, focuses onhow businesspeople and other professionals perceive corruption in theircountry. Poland's score improved by 0.4 points this year to 4.6. The point systemranges from one (very corrupt) to 10 (least corrupt).

Stanislaw Cichocki, executive director at Transparency International, said that Polandwas a leader amongst countries trying to change for the better.

According to the report, the performance ofGreece, Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland was poor and "showed little or no sign of improvement." The reportadds that due to this the EU's credibility could be weakened in the fightagainst corruption among new members and countries in line for accession.

Iraq and Myanmar tied for second-most corrupt in the ranking, while Somaliatook last place.

"In the poorest countries, corruptionlevels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitalsor clean water is in play," said Huguette Labelle, chair of TransparencyInternational.

Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden took the three highest spots in the 180-country index.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Polish man bailed after Preston prostitute rape attack

A 26-year-old Polish man has been released on police bail after being questioned in connection with the alleged rape of a prostitute in Preston.

In the early hours of this morning, a 26-year-old street worker was on St Marys Street, Preston, when a male approached her in a vehicle.

She climbed into the rear of the vehicle, whereupon the man produced a blade and allegedly proceeded to rape her at knife point.

The victim was able to escape from the vehicle and report the incident to the police.

The man will have to appear back at Preston police station on December 12.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Malta extradites Polish murderer

Malta on Thursday extradited Maciej Slesik to Poland to face homicide and torture charges. His arrest a week ago led to an outpouring of collective horror and revulsion across Malta as details of his killings and torture emerged.

Mr Slesik was arrested at the airport, where he went to meet relatives in the early hours of Tuesday morning following an investigation by Maltese and Polish authorities.

He was wanted for the abduction, torture, grievous bodily harm and murder of Arthur Zembruski and Malgorzata Rebecka, the abduction of Tedeues Wozniak, theft, armed robbery, illegally detaining and causing grievous bodily harm to Robert Nowak and Tomasz Dabkowski and seriously injuring Daniel Majewski.

The court ordered the extradition of the Polish national and he was deported this morning via Frankfurt. He was accompanied by 3 Polish officers and Police Inspector Jeffrey Azzopardi.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Polish man gets 20 years for MP3 teen stabbing

A court in Brussels has jailed a Polish man for 20 years for fatally stabbing a teenager who refused to hand over his MP3 player during a robbery.

The jury followed prosecutors’ advice and gave a stiff sentence to 19-year-old Adam Giza.

But rather than finding him guilty of murder, they opted for the lesser charge of “violent theft leading to death”.

Giza stabbed 17-year-old Joe Van Holsbeeck five times in the chest when he refused to hand over his MP3 player in Brussels’ central railway station.

A second youth has already been sentenced to three and a half years in a young offenders institution for his part in the attack.

Belgium was profoundly shaken by the killing which happened in April 2006.

After the attack 80 thousand people took to the streets for an anti-violence rally.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Polish prelate backs plans to force chemical castration of pedophiles

A Polish archbishop has backed government plans to permit the forced chemical castration of pedophiles as part of a crackdown on sex offenders.

"Bearing in mind the methods of treatment available when we want to cure a person, it seems ethical to help him this way," said retired Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski of Gdansk. "Let's remember it doesn't just concern him, but also the children who may be wrecked by his lack of self-control and who will suffer throughout their lives."

In an interview with Poland's Radio Zet, he said the penalty, recently proposed in a package of tough penal reforms by Poland's center-right government, was morally right to prevent pedophiles from violating the dignity of others. He said it could be compared to methods for treating alcoholics. Chemical castration is a drug that takes away a person's sex drive.

"If it helps a person ... by making his brain function more correctly, then I'd see it solely as a treatment rather than as retribution," Archbishop Goclowski, 77, said in the Sept. 30 interview. "A normal person should be aware of the good of the child who is damaged in this way."

He added that he would support similar treatment for those who commit the "grave sin" of incest.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in mid-September he would "radically accelerate" provisions for the forcible chemical castration of pedophiles after a 45-year-old man was reported to have fathered two children with his daughter after imprisoning and raping her for six years.

More than 79 percent of Poles backed the proposal in a late September survey by the Millward Brown agency, while 94 percent favored general tougher penalties for sex offenders.

However, human rights groups have said the measure is draconian and would violate human rights.

Several European Union countries, including Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden, allow sex offenders to be treated with drugs voluntarily. Laws on forced castration for pedophiles and rapists also are under discussion in the Czech Republic and Spain.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Paedophile Castration Only on Request

The Justice Minister has backtracked on regulations, proposed two weeks ago, that would legalise the compulsory administration of sex drive-suppressing drugs to sexual offenders.

The bill, which was to deliver on Prime Minister Donald Tusk's pledge to introduce the 'compulsory chemical castration of paedophiles', has now lost its key provision. It authorised the use of the 'means of direct coercion', on terms provided for in the Mental Health Protection Act, towards sexual offenders placed upon serving their time in closed therapy centres. A draft of the bill has just been submitted to the ministers for review.

The previous draft was unveiled by Justice Minister Zbigniew Cwiakalski during a press conference two weeks ago. The provision on the use of 'direct coercive measures' would legalise the compulsory administration of pharmaceuticals not only, as is the case today, to persons unable because of a mental disability to consciously express their will, but also to mentally sound persons.

Such a law doesn't exist in any democratic country. 'Someone has to make the first step', PM Donald Tusk had said then.

Today, the most far-reaching legislation, also in Poland, makes it possible to send a sexual offender for compulsory therapy. But if the patient refuses to receive medicine or undergo other procedures, the therapy will be confined to staying at a closed medical facility.

Bioethical experts criticised the bill as inconsistent with the fundamental medical principles of respecting the patient's will and not performing any procedures that would not serve his welfare.

'This is very slippery ground', Prof Marek Safjan, co-author of the Council of Europe's bioethical convention, had told Gazeta. ''If we accept the compulsory chemical castration of sexual offenders, why not perform lobotomy on violent criminals? Only where will this take us? Medical therapy mustn't be used in public interest. Otherwise, we'll return, for instance, to the compulsory sterilisation of mentally disabled patients performed in Sweden as recently as in the 1970s'.

The proposed law was also criticised by constitutional experts as an attempt to introduce unconstitutional corporal punishment, criminal law experts pointed out that depriving someone of their ability to reproduce was an offence, and sexologists stressed that chemical sex-drive suppression wouldn't be effective without psychotherapy, which couldn't be performed against the patient's will.

Theologians were opposed too, noting that the Catholic Church regarded the ability to reproduce as part of every individual's natural dignity.

The way the proposed law had been drawn up was criticised by members of the Polish Association of Forensic Psychiatry. 'Drawing up such regulations isn't a job solely for legal experts but also, in this case, for psychiatrists, sexologists, or psychologists. Only they can judge whether the proposed regulations are consistent with the principles of medical ethics. Yet no one is asking us for opinion. We'd been sent the final draft of the bill, but had just two days to review it', says Janusz Heitzman at Warsaw's Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Poland's arbitration tribunal suspended the PZPN board

Poland's arbitration tribunal suspended the PZPN board and named an administrator on Monday after Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki filed a motion saying it had violated the law in a number of cases.

World body FIFA, whose statutes forbid government intervention in football affairs, said on Wednesday Poland must reinstate the PZNP by 1000 GMT on Oct. 6 or risk being suspended from this month's two World Cup qualifying matches.

"We are standing firm with UEFA. Our warning and deadline still stands," a FIFA spokesman said on Friday.

Poland will not return to the negotiating table until FIFA withdraws its "ultimatum", sports ministry official Adam Gieresz was quoted as saying by the PAP news agency after another round of talks with the FA broke down late on Friday.

Poland are scheduled to play Czech Republic on Oct. 11 and Slovakia four days later in European qualifying Group Three which the team lead with four points from two games.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk backed his sports minister, saying the administrator should stay in place, while administrator Robert Zawlocki said he would not step down.

"I will support Minister Drzewiecki in this matter," Tusk said in his first public comment on the issue during the second day of emergency talks on the issue.

"Sometimes a tough stand is needed and this can be costly. I am sure Minister Drzewiecki will not dismiss the administrator," Tusk told reporters.

"Polish soccer cannot be healed (with such a dismissal). And why do we need qualifiers that we will lose anyway if Polish football doesn't change?"

Corruption accusations have often been raised against the PZPN and its head, Michal Listkiewicz, but a succession of sports ministers, including Drzewiecki, have failed to oust him.

Local commentators say Listkiewicz, widely seen as a close friend of UEFA President Michel Platini, will probably resist any such attempts this time round as well.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Poland close to losing hosting rights for Euro 2012

Poland could be stripped of the rights to host Euro 2012 if the national association is not reinstated, according to Uefa and Fifa.

The governing bodies are concerned that the PZPN is no longer being run as an independent body after administrators were appointed on Monday.

The PZPN has been trying to resolve a corruption case but was unable to so the government, via the Polish National Olympic Committee (PNOC), stepped in to appoint a new board.

However, Fifa and Uefa rules forbid government intervention and the governing bodies have now threatened to stop Poland from hosting Euro 2012.

Uefa spokesman William Gaillard told the BBC: "The rules are clear. We offered Euro 2012 to the FA, not the government.

"So if the FA are not in place or suspended then they are not in a position to host the tournament."

Fifa and Uefa have contacted the International Olympic Committee to try and help them restore the autonomy of the PZPN but have set a deadline of Monday for the situation to be resolved.

Gaillard added: "We are standing firm with Fifa. Our patience has limits and we are very close to the limit.

"If the FA is not reinstated by Monday's deadline then we will have serious discussions about the future of Euro 2012 immediately. We will not wait any longer."

The problems come one week after Poland, and co-hosts of Euro 2012 Ukraine, were told to quicken preparations for the tournament.

Uefa officials had been unhappy about the current infrastructure in place in the capital cities of both countries and their ability to host the influx of travelling supporters during the tournament

Friday, October 10, 2008

Communist pensions targeted

The ruling Civic Platform (PO) party has tabled a bill that would cut pensions for communist-era secret police
The ruling Civic Platform (PO) party has tabled a bill that would cut pensions for communist-era secret police as well as members of the Military Council for National Salvation (WRON), the junta formed during Poland's martial law years. According to Reuters, the move could affect up to 30,000 people.
Pensions, some amounting to zl.8,000 a month, could be halved or quartered.

Two of the most recognizable figures to be affected are former generals Wojciech Jaruzelski and Czeslaw Kiszczak. Both men are currently embroiled in a trial concerning the imposition of martial law in 1981.

"We know that people like Jaruzelski have not had to face up to what they've done," Zbigniew Chlebowski, a PO MP and head of the party's parliamentary club, told reporters. "After 18 years, justice should be served to the people who tried their best to make communism in Poland last as long as possible. It is impossible that well-known people such as Jaruzelski and Kiszczak should not pay the price," Chlebowski added.

Kiszczak, the last prime minister of communist Poland, told TVP that he had no regrets. "I am not afraid. I would do what I did in my life the same way again, without regard for the consequences," he said.

According to PO's projections, lowering these pensions would trim zl.600 million from the national budget.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Lehman Brothers may not get paid by Polish government

The contract between the Polish government with Lehman Brothers concerning advisory services in its dispute with Eureko over PZU is slowly coming to an end

"Lehman proposed a resolution to the dispute before it announced its financial problems. The proposal however was not approved by the Treasury Ministry," said a person close to the dispute.

Ministry spokesperson Maciej Wiewior was not willing to comment on the situation, as the Treasury is waiting for information on who will take over the European part of the American bank which is currently administered by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

"Further actions are conditioned with what happens to Lehman Brothers in London, as the Poland government has a contract with this branch," said the spokesperson.

"Our objective is a compromise which will represent our rights purchased from the Treasury Ministry. Our investment in PZU is still strategic and long-term," said Michal Nastula, president of Eureko Polska.
If it is hard to understand this article, it is because the writer is speaking in Polish.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Former PM: government are vengeful whippersnappers

The former Democratic Left (SLD) Prime Minister Leszek Miller has called the ruling Civic Platform’s (PO) plans to slash pensions claimed by former Communist secret militia (SB) officers “a triumph of folly over decency”.

“The attempt to take away the military pensions from General Wojciech Jaruzelski and his former subordinates is a triumph of folly over decency. Political whippersnappers take revenge on the Polish exile to Siberia and frontline soldier [during WWII] who first saved our country from the Warsaw Pact’s military invasion [by introducing martial law in 1981] and then brought about the roundtable talks [in 1989] and political transformation at an unprecedented scale in Poland,” Leszek Miller writes on his blog on Internet portal.

In the former PM’s view, there are no such “mythical privileges” that could make amends to the General for his great contributions to contemporary Poland and the Civic Platform “have put themselves into the Law and Justice’s (PiS) shoes” trying to vengefully slash the former SB officers’ retirement pensions.

Miller has also recalled the fact that even the former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa vetoed a similar bill in 1992 when he was President.

The Dziennik daily wrote on Tuesday that the Polish Lower House would soon debate a draft bill prepared by the Civic Platform to lower the pensions claimed by some 35,000 former officers of the Communist militia still living in Poland. The newspaper informed that the average monthly pension claimed by the retired SB generals was 7,300 zlotys (2,300 euros) a month and would be reduced to 2,500 zlotys under the new law.
Note: Remeber that being Polish is not a nationality, it's a profession.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Poland’s hospitals ‘ticking biological time bombs!’

HIV, hepatitis, TB and dozens of other types of viruses and bacteria have been discovered in the sewerage systems of a hospital in Gdansk, northern Poland. A lack of effective sewage treatment plants in hospitals are commonplace across the entire country, alarms the Polska daily.

And it’s not just hospital patients who are at risk. Since the beginning of this year, at least one water supply network has been closed down in Poland due to contamination of the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria from hospital sewers. The probability that the bacteria will hit one of the biggest Polish cities is very high. Polish epidemiologists have no doubt that Polish hospitals are a ticking biological time bombs and a disaster waiting to happen, writes the newspaper.

The new draft media reform bill in its present shape gives politicians an instrument to exert yet more pressure on public radio and television, a media expert from Warsaw University, Maciej Mrozowski, is quoted in today’s Rzeczpospolita daily.

The new controversial draft bill, completely discrediting the current law, proposes an utterly new system of funding and control of public media may be more detrimental than the present system, says Mrozowski. In particular, the expert’s main cause for concern is the lack of transparency when financing public broadcasters from the state budget and exercising control via newly- establisher regulators dependent on the authorities, writes Rzeczpospolita.

On the positive side, the concept of programming licences, based of the French idea, and a merger of public radio and television stations, presently too disintegrated on the regional level, are the only good ideas proposed by the new law, in the expert’s view.

The Polish Justice Ministry wants to close down dozens of courts employing less than ten judges each, informs the left-wing Trybuna daily.

If the Ministry’s idea, bitterly criticised by the Polish Judges Association “Iustitia”, comes into force, access to courts, especially among the Poles living in rural areas and small towns, will be drastically impeded.

According to “Iustitia” member, judge Waldemar Zurek, if the shortage of judges in Poland is not remedied soon, “we will have to begin employing student judges to pass verdicts, which would be disastrous”, we read in Trybuna.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Man cuts his head off with chainsaw

A 47-year-old man from a village in Elblag, northern Poland, has committed suicide by cutting his head off with a chainsaw.

Police say he man decided to kill himself after a family squabble. The tragic event occurred in Nadbrzeze, near Elblag, on Thursday evening. Police officers who were called to the scene found the man in a pool of blood, the chainsaw next to him.

The public prosecutor, who attended the scene is satisfied that the act was suicide and no other person was involved.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Polish man bites ear!

A construction worker has bitten off the ear of a man from a rival firm in Krakow, south Poland.

Those two construction gangs were renovating one of the buildings of a housing estate in Nowa Huta, near Krakow. The builders started quarrelling which brigade is going to start their job first. Two men, from opposite brigades, started fighting with one of them losing his ear.

The injured man landed up in hospital where doctors fought to sew back on the severed ear, but to no avail.

The attacker, after being pursued by men from the rival construction gang, handed himself into the police.

He has been charged for causing permanent injury and is facing up to five years in prison.

  • Note: As of the moment of this publishing, the Polish Police and Administrative Corruption page is already two weeks backlogged with Polish scandal stories. As this obviously creates a problem with timeliness and relevance, if the pace of available Polish scandals keeps up its current pace there might be the possibility of publish two stories a day instead of one. We'll see how it goes.
  • Saturday, October 04, 2008

    Man steals dogs, makes lard, sells to neighbors

    A 70-year-old man from Wieliczka, in the south of Poland, was arrested today for stealing dogs. He admitted to having stolen dogs for the past fifty years, making lard of them, and selling it to his neighbors.

    He was arrested for having stolen the one live animal in his apartment, which he intended to kill today. The man’s apartment was found to contain many dog collars, muzzles, and leashes of the animals he stole.

    The man admits to having killed the animals, boiling them down, and preparing smalec (lard), the Polish delicacy. He has been selling this spread to his neighbors for the past fifty years.

    It is still unknown whether or not the police will prosecute the man for illegal food production and distribution. He does, however, face up to two years in prison for stealing dogs.

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    Ministry of Labour seeks to legally ban child abuse

    The Polish Ministry of Labour wants to introduce a statutory ban on child abuse.

    The Government Spokesperson for Disabled People, Jaroslaw Duda, said that changes in the law are needed in order to more effectively fight the abuse children.

    According to the TNS OBOP research centre, 15 percent of Poles admit to using violence against children under age 18. The data shows that almost one-third of respondents know someone who uses violence against children. The data is similar regarding psychological violence.

    Less than one percent of respondents admitted to using sexual violence against their child.

    Poland has been shocked by a number of horrifying cases of incest and child molestation in recent days.
    Note: You mean it has been legal up to now?

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Pilot awarded Silver Cross for saying “no” to President

    Poland’s Defence Minister has awarded the captain of the “Polish Air Force 1” Tu-154, carrying President Lech Kaczynski and the Baltic States leaders to the anti-Russian rally in Georgian capital in August, with the Silver Cross of Merit for refusing to change the flight schedule.

    The captain of the Polish aircraft, with the presidents of Poland, Lithuania and Estonia and the Latvian PM on board, said “no” to President Lech Kaczynski when requested that he fly direct to Tbilisi instead of the originally planned destination of an airfield in Azerbaijan. The pilot decided that for safety reasons – Georgian airspace was in control of the Russians at the time - his aircraft should stick to the original schedule and, against Kaczynski’s wish, flew the top politicians to Azerbaijan.

    To President Kaczynski’s distaste, the statesmen then had to travel from Azerbaijan to Tbilisi in a four hour car convoy.

    Shortly after touchdown in Azerbaijan, the Polish President expressed his annoyance at the pilot’s “cowardice” and said he would hold him “responsible for his disobedience”.

    "The pilot, who has been suffering from depression since the incident, is again on duty and has been awarded for his brave decision,” said Minister Klich.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Polish anti-corruption body highlights problems with 2007 reimbursement list

    Following a long investigation, the Polish anti-corruption office (CBA) has reported a number of anomalies related to the inclusion of certain medicines in the human drugs reimbursement list, which was published by the Polish health ministry in November 2007.

    The CBA investigation started at the beginning of 2008, after a series of articles in the Polish press questioning the way in which ivabradine, manufactured by French pharmaceutical company Servier, was added to the list (see EURALex, Issue No 189).

    The press suggested that ivabradine - a drug used in the treatment of ischaemic heart disease - was included in the November 2007 list following a meeting at the health ministry between then-deputy health minister Boleslaw Piecha and Servier's representatives. The drug was first included in the draft reimbursement list, from which it was removed after a period of public consultation. The press claimed that the drug appeared again on the list after Mr Piecha's meeting with the company's representatives, when the final list was already signed by then-health minister Zbigniew Religa and was awaiting the signature of the finance minister.

    Both Mr Piecha and the company denied corruption allegations. In its latest statement on ivabradine, Servier Poland says that the drug was not a last-minute addition to the list, but rather a result of 20 months of consultation process followed by the company's application to include it in the reimbursement list, submitted to the health ministry in March 2006. "Servier fulfilled all the requirements pertaining to the drug's inclusion in the reimbursement list and provided all the necessary information, including the results of studies and opinions," the company maintains.

    According to CBA investigators, the documentation pertaining to the reimbursement list refers to a positive recommendation offered for the drug by the ministry's drugs policy department, but in fact this recommendation was never made. The CBA also established that the health minister - who signs the final list - did not receive full information on the costs of ivabradine's inclusion in the list. The CBA claims that the drug policy department estimated ivabradine's reimbursement costs at PLN240 million (Euros70.9 million) per annum, however, the figure provided for in the documentation accompanying the draft reimbursement list was PLN7.8 million. In addition, the CBA also highlighted the lack of mechanisms that would allow the health ministry to carry out an appropriate pharmaco-economic assessment of innovative drugs.

    On the other hand, in a report issued a few months ago, the Polish Supreme Chamber of Control (NIK) - a top audit institution overseeing economic efficiency in public spending - offered a positive assessment of the ministry's work on the November reimbursement list, although it, too, pointed out to various abnormalities. The Chamber stressed that Mr Piecha - from a formal point of view and in line with the current legislation - did not exceed his competencies as the deputy health minister responsible for the formation of the list, when he decided to include ivabradine - and two other drugs - without having a positive recommendation from the drugs policy department. The NIK noted, however, that such a practice gives evidence to the lack of transparency, as provided for in the EU Transparency Directive. The NIK report makes several recommendations to the ministry to revise the current legislation governing the reimbursement of medicines to make the process more transparent.

    In the meantime, the CBA has forwarded the results of its investigation to the Prosecutor's Office, which has been conducting its own investigation into the offering and receiving of financial benefits related to the inclusion of ivabradine in the reimbursement list. The investigation will also focus on the actions of Mr Piecha.