Friday, January 09, 2009

Polish diplomat charged with impaired driving returns to Europe

Poland's consul in Vancouver has returned home to Europe, raising questions about whether he will be present for a court hearing next week on impaired-driving charges.

Tomasz Lis is supposed to appear in court on Jan. 13 to face a charge of impaired driving and having a blood alcohol level over .08 while operating a motor vehicle.

But Sylwia Domisiewicz, spokeswoman for the Polish embassy in Ottawa, wrote in an e-mail yesterday that Mr. Lis has left Canada for Poland and, as of Dec. 31, is no longer Poland's consul general in Vancouver.

She did not reply to e-mails and phone calls requesting clarification on whether Mr. Lis would attend the court hearing next week.

Piotr Ogrodzinski, Poland's ambassador in Canada, has suggested Mr. Lis would face Canadian justice, but was not available for comment yesterday.

Vancouver police said last month that the driver of a car with consular licence plates was arrested for being over the legal limit after a 2009 Volvo rear-ended a municipal fire truck in downtown Vancouver.

Mr. Lis, 49, later conceded that he was the individual in the spotlight in the case, but denied he had blown over the limit. A career diplomat since 1990, Mr. Lis had been in B.C. only a month. Among his responsibilities was being a point person for concerns over the fate of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who died in October, 2007, after being tasered by Mounties during a confrontation at Vancouver International Airport.

Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said Mr. Lis was required to attend next week's court hearing or he could face the prospect of a warrant being issued for his arrest.

Mr. Lowe noted, however, that any such warrant would not be valid outside of Canada.

"This warrant remains in the system so that if the person comes back to Canada and comes into contact with police, that person can be arrested," Mr. Lowe said.

He would not comment on how the Crown would proceed if Mr. Lis does not show up, suggesting the Crown would wait for the court hearing. "Depending what happens will determine our course of action," he said.