Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Government lawyers nearly unbeatable

From: WBJ
The average Polish citizen or firm does not stand a chance when taking the Polish government to court, reports Puls Biznesu.

In 2009, the Treasure won proceedings worth zl.1.7 billion.

It only had to pay zl.80 million in damages. Those seeking compensation from the government are having a tough time beating its lawyers.

There was almost a precedent-setting case last week, where MCI Management was awarded zl.38.5 million for the demise of its JTT Computer, which was fueled by bad moves from the Treasury.

That could have been a break, but the judgment was ruled invalid.

Last year, there were 618 lawsuits against the Treasury, of which the Attorney General's office won 541, or 86.5 percent.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Auschwitz sign thieves convicted

The men were sentenced to terms between 18 to 30 months in prison
Three men have been jailed for stealing the 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign from the entrance to the Auscwitz concentration camp last year.

The men were sentenced by a Polish court to terms of between 18 to 30 months on Thursday.

The sign, which reads "Work Sets You Free", was stolen and cut into pieces last December.

Officials described the men as "petty thieves" who intended to sell the sign to an undisclosed buyer.

The court identified them only as Radoslaw M, Lukasz M, and Pawel S, in keeping with Polish privacy laws.

Television footage from the court showed each man in turn expressing regret and acknowledging that stealing the sign was not a good idea.

The theft occurred in the night between December 17 and December 18, and the thieves left traces in the snow and then cut the sign into three pieces to make it easier to transport.

They also left behind the last letter "i" in the snow.

Acting on tips, police tracked down the sign in a snow-covered forest near the thieves' home on the other side of Poland, less than three days after it was stolen.

Suspect extradition

A Swedish man named Anders Hogstrom, is also a suspect and is detained in Sweden and due to be extradited to Poland. Two other Polish suspects remain imprisoned and under investigation.

Media reports have suggested that a British collector of Nazi memorabilia commissioned the theft, but police prosecutors have not confirmed that.

The slogan on the Auschwitz sign has come to be a potent symbol of Nazi Germany's atrocities during World War II and the Holocaust.

Between 1940 and 1945 more than one million people were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau or died of starvation or disease while forced to perform hard physical labour at the camp.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Police surprised by snake in bra

From: fox8live
Police arresting a suspected drug dealer in Poland got a shock when a snake suddenly appeared out of her bra.

The four-foot long python had reportedly been curled up around the breasts of the suspect.

The woman was arrested over bags of amphetamines that police found in her apartment.

Officers admit they hadn't searched the woman immediately after her arrest because they didn't want to breach her human rights and that "no one thought to look inside her blouse."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Polish cops arrest Lodz file sharer

From: p2pnet
Polish police, working for ZPAV, “observed increased activity by a user of a Polish-based cyberlocker” in Lodz, says Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music’s IFPI.

Hmmmm. Wonder who enlightened them?

ZPAV (Zwiazek Producentow Audio-Video) is a kind of Polish BREIN comprising the local arm of the IFPI and FOTA (equivalent to the MPAA in Poland).

The economic crime department of the regional police headquarters in Lodz “detained the suspect as he was uploading a new film”, says the IFPI, stating the alleged file sharer has now been “charged with illegally distributing music and film online”.

Using the tired, and hoary, entertainment cartel formula that files shared equal sales lost, and making statements based on unsupported guesswork, “It is estimated that the uploaded files were downloaded by over 400,000 internet users and the initial losses incurred by the music and film industries are estimated to be 7 million PLN (€ 1.8 m)”, says the IFPI.

The tame and lame mainstream media parrot every word from the cartels just as though it’s reliable information from credible sources.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monitoring the hooligans

From: NPE
A 22-year-old man, Lukasz S., was arrested at 3am this Thursday morning after going on a mini-rampage through the centre of Warsaw. An alert CCTV operator spotted the young man walking along ul. Grojecka in the company of a female, when the man began attacking a parked car for no apparent reason.

The camera operator called police and tracked the young man on cameras, recording as he attacked a further two vehicles. Police then arrived at the scene and arrested the startled young man as he waited at a bus stop. A breathalyser showed he had 0.25% alcohol in his bloodstream.

He succeeded in smashing the rear windscreen of a Skoda and the back door on a Mercedes. The owners of the vehicles have assessed the damage at PLN 1400.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Where’s my crane?

From: NPE
Warsaw police received a report this Monday morning that a 24 tonne crane had been stolen from a site on the Trasa N-S over the weekend. “It was there on the Saturday, then we came in on Monday and it was gone,” exclaimed the crane’s owner Ryszard Jankowski of J-R construction.

The million zloty, 10 metre long, bright yellow Liebherr crane disappeared from a secure parking area, but it seems nobody noticed it leaving, and the CCTV system wasn’t recording at the time.

Police recovered the vehicle this Wednesday on the outskirts of the capital but have no idea as yet who might have taken it. “Our enquiries are continuing,” an officer said.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Marek fails second dope test

From: The News
The Polish Olympic Committee has announced that Poland’s Olympic cross country skier Kornelia Marek’s second “B” sample has proved positive.

The test was carried out during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver after the 4x5 km relay race in which the Polish team took sixth place. Her “A” sample proved positive and was announced as such last Wednesday. March 12, after which the second test was performed. The "B" sample was found to contain EPO, a synthetic hormone.

Marek has professed her innocence throughout the week. “I have never taken any banned substances," she told TVP television.

If found guilty of doping the International Olympic Committee will annul all results which the 24 year-old Marek achieved, including records and the team performance.

The skier will also be banned from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The failed dope tests have cast a shadow over Poland‘s performance at the Winter Olympics this year, which was their best in the history of the completion, bringing home six medals.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Post #1,250 -Suspected hit-and-run driver arrested in Poland after human nose found stuck to car

From: AFP
Polish police have arrested a 29-year-old woman they suspect is responsible for a hit-and-run fatality after a mechanic found part of a human body part jammed in the under carriage of her car, Warsaw police said Wednesday.

"Many traces, including human tissue, were found in the under carriage of the BMW," a police statement said.

A source close to the investigation told AFP a mechanic had found the nose of the victim jammed in the frame of the woman’s car.

Police said a 28-year-old man fell victim to a hit-and-run by the woman Monday night on a small road in the Warsaw area. The man died after she fled without offering him any assistance.

She told mechanics at the garage where she took her car for repairs that she had hit a deer.

The garage notified police when a mechanic making repairs on the car found the human body part jammed in its under carriage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Anti-Semitic slogans paint at concentration camp memorial monuments near Krakow

From: EJP
Anti-Semitic slogans on a memorial monument at the former Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp.
Anti-Semitic graffiti were sprayed Saturday on monuments in the Plaszow concentration camp memorial, near the city of Krakow, in southern Poland.

Words including "Jude Raus" — German for "Jew Out" — and "Hitler Good!" in English, were found in red paint on a large monument at the former camp. A smaller memorial plaque was also painted with a swastika and "Jude Raus."

It happened on the eve of a march commemorating the 67th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow's Jewish ghetto in World War II.

According to the Polish press agency PAP, the police have launched an investigation.

On March 13, 1945 a German SS operation targeted the Krakow’s Jewish quarter. About 8,000 people were transferred to the Krakow labour camp and some 2,000 killed on the streets or taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

The Plaszow camp featured in Steven Spielberg's 1993 Oscar-winning film "Schindler's List," which chronicled efforts by German industrialist Oskar Schindler to save Jews by having them work in his Krakow factory.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Polish Football clubs forced to cut lucrative ties to online gambling firms

From: Recent Poker
The Polish Football Federation has been forced to suspend its sponsorship agreement with Swedish online sports-betting company Unibet, in order to fall into line with the Eastern European country's new and draconian online gambling laws, which came into effect on January 1st 2010.

Reporting on the move, Betfair's initiative for free movement of goods and services in the EU, Right2Bet, says that Unibet, which was the official sponsor of the Polish second division, can no longer have its branding placed in stadiums and on TV. The partnership has therefore been suspended and the much needed money which was supposed to go to struggling Polish league clubs has been withdrawn.

Poles have banned all forms of gambling outside of the land-based casinos, and advertising of gambling companies has also been blocked.

"The development will come as a hammer blow to the league, its clubs and their supporters, who are now being robbed of the chance to earn the type of money needed if Polish football is to progress and regain a sure footing in the global game," the Right2Bet blog laments.

"Polish football, in terms of infrastructure and quality is in the pits, and the ridiculously restrictive legislation now in place is having a major impact on everyone connected with the sport.

"Amazingly, this new legislation only came about as a result of the government trying to pass the buck, after members of the Cabinet were charged with corruption. The disgraced politicians were found to be opposing higher taxes on gambling institutions based on their ties with them, and rather than blame the individuals responsible, the government looked to appease the public by blaming gambling itself, and the new bill was proposed and passed at breakneck speed."

The European Commission has already voiced its displeasure with certain aspects of the new bill and has asked Poland for an explanation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Biker killed by Polish driver after car pulled across road

From: Droitwich Advertiser
A motorcyclist died after a man at the wheel of a left-hand drive car turned across the road in front of him to go and buy bottled gas.

Robert Newland, a 45-year-old beer sales agent from Feckenham, was riding his 900cc Yahama around the 60mph limit on the B4090 Droitwich to Hanbury road.

But Piotr Kopa, a Polish land worker, failed to observe him approaching and turned his Audi right across the carriageway at the entrance to a farm supplies shop, said Alex Warren, prosecuting at Worcester Crown Court.

Mr Newland was thrown off his motorbike and suffered multiple injuries. He died at the scene.

Kopa, aged 30, formerly of Cladswell Lane, Alcester, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving when he appeared in court.

Judge Toby Hooper QC accepted that the crash was caused by “momentary inattention”.

The victim had overtaken two cars before the accident, but there was no criticism of his riding.

It was a “truly tragic” case, the judge added, because Mr Newland’s father had died seven weeks before the collision on October 10, 2008.

His mother told police that her son’s death had left a gap in her life that could never be filled.

Kopa was given a six-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for 12 months.

Mr Newland had been to a bank in Droitwich Spa and was travelling towards Hanbury when he was killed, said Mr Warren.

Kopa had 320 metres visibility of the road ahead, but failed to see the motorcycle until the last minute.

Shawn Williams, defending, said Kopa had sought psychiatric help for depression after the crash and was still suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

The accident caused a relationship to founder and he was filled with remorse.

Kopa, who had no previous convictions, stayed at the accident scene and offered assistance.

He was now of no fixed address, but hoped to live with friends in Kent before returning to Poland.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Poland: Sex, drugs and scandal

From: GlobalPost
Poland's politics are not lily white. The squeaky clean image of the party of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has been sullied by a cross-dressing, drug-taking politician.
A sex and drugs scandal that has besmirched the reputation of one of Poland’s most respected politicians has now dragged down two opposition party members who refused to join the witch hunt against Senator Krzysztof Piesiewicz.

Piesiewicz, a well known screenwriter who collaborated with Krzysztof Kieslewski, one of Poland’s most celebrated directors, as well as a lawyer who fought for dissidents in Communist-era courts and a prominent member of the anti-Communist underground, saw his political and professional career destroyed this past December when a Polish tabloid published enormously embarrassing videos of the senator on its webpage.

The films showed the senator, wearing a flowery dress, in the company of two women and snorting a white powder, that Piesiewicz later said was “crushed medicine” not cocaine.

The video was peddled to the Super Ekspres tabloid by blackmailers — since arrested — who had reportedly managed to extract about 500,000 zlotys ($170,000) from Piesiewicz before he finally turned to the police for help.

“It was a set-up,” Piesiewicz told the tabloid. “I don’t know if something was not thrown in my drink. I am completely normal. It was the only incident of its kind in my life.”

Piesiewicz’s downfall came as an embarrassment to the ruling Civic Platform party. Although Piesiewicz gave up his party membership, Donald Tusk, the prime minister, cut himself off from the errant legislator. Tusk and his party have long presented themselves as squeaky clean in moral and criminal matters, and with presidential elections this year and legislative elections in 2011, being caught up in a messy scandal could damage Civic Platform.

That was the hope of the right-wing opposition Law and Justice party (PiS), which had counted on turning Piesiewicz’s troubles to its own advantage. Newspaper columnists close to the party denounced the senator’s “immorality” and demanded that he apologize to the Polish people before withdrawing from public life.

However, a recent vote in the senate to remove Piesiewicz’s parliamentary immunity has now blown up in the face of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PiS’s leader. Two leading PiS senators, both of them with long traditions in the anti-Communist underground, refused to go along with Kaczynski’s demand that Piesiewicz be stripped of his immunity to face investigation for possible drug possession charges.

One of the two, Zbigniew Romaszewski, a prickly and argumentative, albeit respected politician, said that he had no intention of taking orders from Kaczynski in a matter of conscience.

“I do not agree that, whether I am correct or not, someone in an arbitrary way and without discussion prevents me from expressing my views,” said Romaszewski, who was first suspended from and then quit PiS. “I am one of the few senators who knows the situation from up close, and no one asked by opinion before the vote on removing Krzysztof Piesiewicz’s immunity.”

For Kaczynski, who rules PiS with an iron fist, the issue came down to party discipline and to his long-running crusade against corruption, which has been a lynchpin of PiS’s electoral platform.

“Mr Romaszewski had a different opinion and he was punished,” said Kaczynski.

In the end the vote to remove Piesiewicz’s immunity failed, but on the strength of the majority of Civic Platform senators, and not because of the two PiS rebels. Instead of a scandal that damages the ruling party, Kaczynski has again turned the discussion to his tight control over PiS, something that is also likely to damage to re-election chances of his twin brother Lech, currently Poland’s president.

As for Piesiewicz, he has gone to ground, not even showing up for the immunity vote in the senate.

In one of his only interviews since his career blew up, Piesiewicz told a religious TV channel that he only blames himself for his “naiveté and thoughtlessness."

“We will see what will become of me. I’m waiting calmly for the media fuss to die down,” he said, adding that he will “never” know peace again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Arresting development

From: FT
When Pawel Rey and Lech Jeziorny embarked on a complex management buy-out of a failing slaughterhouse not far from the historic centre of Krakow, they knew they were taking a business risk - what they didn't expect was that they would end up jailed and bankrupted for their efforts.

The project came to the attention of the local prosecutor's office, and the entrepreneurs, along with some partners, were charged with running a criminal enterprise and attempting to steal enormous sums from the company they were trying to buy. They ended up spending nine months in jail while prosecutors hunted for evidence against them. Finally, under prodding from the court system, prosecutors dropped all charges against them at the end of last year - leaving the two men to try to rebuild their businesses and their reputations.

"We were acting openly and legally. We didn't try to hide anything," says Mr Rey. "We were aware of business risks but we didn't recognise how things really work in Poland."

The pair's experience with the law is part of a wider problem for Polish businesses, a number of which have been driven into bankruptcy by tax and law enforcement officials making incorrect decisions based on badly drafted and frequently changing regulations.

"Often before the interpretation of a law has been fixed, it is changed again," says Jeremi Mordasewicz, a labour market expert with Lewiatan, Poland's employers federation. "The real source of the problem in these types of cases is a lack of trust on the part of bureaucrats, who treat business with suspicion."

The government has promised to make radical changes - Donald Tusk, prime minister, has pledged to take a "machete" to red tape. Although progress has been slow, the government, which has been in power since 2007, has made life slightly easier for business by tweaking the rules about value added tax, making it simpler to register a company, and decreasing the frequency of companies in dispute with officials having their accounts frozen.

For some, however, the reforms are not fast enough. Roman Kluska is a computer entrepreneur who became the poster boy for the need to reform relations between Polish business and officialdom when he was arrested in 2000 on allegations of tax evasion before being cleared of all charges in 2003. Last year he told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper: "We say that we are a normal European country, but the facts show that we are still rooted in real socialism."

Mr Kluska was commenting on the 1,220 zlotys ($429, €315, £285) granted to US businessman Mitch Nocula after his machine tools company was driven out of business when inspectors incorrectly accused him of using illegal software.

When Mr Rey and Mr Jeziorny came up with their business idea, they were not figuring on becoming examples of bureaucratic wrongdoing - they were hoping to save a struggling meat plant, renovate part of their home city and make a bit of money in the process. Both had served time in prison in the 1980s for their anti-communist agitation as members of the Solidarity labour union, and both had shown that they had a knack for making money during the tail end of communist rule and the early years of Poland's turbulent return to market economics after 1989.

Mr Rey began selling brass candleholders while still in university, then ran an electronics shop in Krakow in the early 1980s. After the end of communism, both his business experience and the funds he had gathered from his earlier ventures made him stand out in a country where few people had an entrepreneurial background. He started a leasing business, then a technology company, which is still listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, before his friend Mr Jeziorny persuaded him to get involved in managing a failing state-owned company in Krakow.

Amid the tangled mess of the post-communist era, they spotted an opportunity that led them to undertake a series of management buy-outs in 1997 and 1999, leaving them owning a large plot of land with a decrepit milk factory on the outskirts of Krakow, and a meat plant just 1.5km from the mediaeval heart of the city.

Mr Rey recalls the stench and noise of panicked pigs as they were driven down the street in front of the management building on their way to slaughter. "This place was obviously completely unsuited to any EU regulations. The only answer was to move it to the outskirts of the city," says Mr Jeziorny.

Their idea was to rezone the land round the meat plant and sell it to a developer, while taking an additional loan and building a meat-packing plant on their land on the edge of the city. As part of the transaction, the proceeds from the first sale went to companies controlled by the two owners, while the cost of building the factory was covered by a loan - something that appeared suspicious to the prosecutor's office.

By 2003 the partners had sold the old plant to GTC, one of Poland's most successful developers, which has since built a modern shopping mall on the site incorporating the old brick slaughterhouse buildings. They had also succeeded in building and opening a meat company and plant called Krakmeat. The hunt was on for an investor who would take over the new processing plant, allowing the partners at least a partial exit from their venture.

That was when the prosecutors swooped. Both men and their partners were arrested as part of a wider investigation into business corruption surrounding the privatisation of former state assets. They were charged with heading a criminal conspiracy, money laundering and working to harm their companies to the tune of 20m zlotys. A parallel tax investigation fined them more than 4m zlotys.

"MBOs are a standard business practice, even if communist-era bureaucrats never heard of them," complains Mr Jeziorny.

They were packed off to jail, while prosecutors began to look for evidence to make their charges stick.

"I remember sitting in the police station looking at Pawel's mobile phone, which had been left on a bench," says Mr Jeziorny. "Every few minutes a call would come in from the investor ready to complete the transaction for the meat plant, but we couldn't pick up. What would we say to him?"

Mr Rey adds: "After the arrests, the potential investor fled, of course."

Polish law permits long preventative detentions, sometimes dragging on for years - something that has been condemned by human rights groups. The Krakmeat plant, where 300 people worked, had to be sold to repay debts and the company was soon bankrupt.

After their release from jail, the investigation continued in spite of vigorous attempts by the two to clear their names. Finally, a court ruling in September 2009 gave prosecutors until the end of that year to file charges or drop the case. In his ruling, the judge wrote: "The reason for the long investigation is the improper practice of first presenting accusations and then trying to verify them . . . The procedure should be reversed."

On the last day of the year, the prosecutor's office released a 96-page report clearing the men of all charges. "Because no one wanted to invest in the meat plant, taking the economic risk was justified," said the report. When contacted by the Financial Times, the prosecutor's office declined to comment further.

That is little consolation to Mr Rey and Mr Jeziorny, whose appeal against their tax fine is working its way through the courts.

"We want this event to change something in this country, so that bureaucrats are more careful and more responsible for their actions," says Mr Rey. "How long can we live in a country where this sort of thing happens? Poland is beating itself with its own fist."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Man hangs himself over cheating wife

From: NPE
Father Arciszewski cheated with local's wife
A man from Lubelskie, was found hanging from a beam in his parent’s barn last Saturday after learning that his wife was cheating on him.

Jacek Zielonka, 39, was told by a neighbour that his naked missus had been cavorting in the local rectory with their 52-year-old priest, Kazmierz Arciszewski.

Zielonka’s cousin told local media: “He should have left the trollop a long time ago but they have a son and he was a good man who loved his family.

At mass the following day, Father Arciszewski told parishioners that nothing had happened between them.

“Everyone just burst out laughing,” said one villager.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plagiarism rife

From: NPE
Almost 40 percent of Polish students simply copy other students’ texts when writing their Master’s thesis, according to Gazeta Prawna.

While this kind of behaviour is often brushed under the carpet, the newspaper warns that plagiarism is in fact more serious than many believe and that if found guilty, offenders could face a fine, or in some cases, imprisonment.

“During my time at university, it was almost expected of you by other students. Everyone I knew was at it and what’s more you got the impression that lecturers would turn a blind eye to it, which just made it easier to do,” says one ex-student, who wishes to remain nameless.

However not all lecturers share this view. A spokesman for Opole University states that the best ways to clamp down on plagiarism is to focus on building up strong supervisor-student relationships, or to check through the internal computer systems and establish how much has been lifted from other sources.

But perhaps one of the most obvious ways to help curb the epidemic is to remind students just how serious the consequences of cheating actually are.

“Students wishing to facilitate their work by copying a part of someone else’s, should remember that, in accordance with Article 115. Paragraph 1. of the copyright law, which deals with taking credit for the authorship of the whole or part of someone else’s work, the maximum penalty can be imprisonment for up to three years,” says Paul Sowislo, a lawyer at Sowislo & Topolewski.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cop execution ad provokes storm

From: NPE
An advertisement for a brand of youth clothing got more attention than it bargained for after being slammed by the justice minister, and irate policemen reported it the prosecutor’s office.

The reason for the anger is that the advertisement, which appeared in the magazine Skateboard, showed a skateboarder pointing a pistol at the head of a cowering policeman under the blunt slogan “On your knees, dog!”

Although the advertisement ran in the January/February edition of the magazine, it re-surfaced just days after the funeral of a Warsaw policeman stabbed to death after accosting some hooligans at a tram stop, and its violent tone drew immediate criticism.

“I don’t know what was going on inside the head of the person who designed this advertisement. Clearly not much goes on there normally,” said Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, the justice minister. “For those of us involved in the protection of public servants the recent terrible event makes it clear that all of us have to ensure that such unacceptable behaviour does not occur again.

“I hope that the most effective punishment for this type of stupidity is that Poles don’t buy this brand of clothing,” he added. “Let this be the most effective method of educating those people who have disgracefully tried to build a career in marketing.”

The police, worried that the picture could encourage people to attack their officers, also wasted little time in attacking the advertisement by starting a criminal investigation.

“We have submitted a complaint to the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw-Mokotow,” reported Mariusz Sokolowski, a spokesman for the capital’s police.

To compound the spluttering anger of the authorities, Lukasz Kosy, co-founder of Guru Gomez, the fashion brand in question, appeared quite proud of the advertisement, explaining that it echoed a common sentiment in skateboarding community.

“Such an idea [holding a gun to a policeman] is in the head of every skateboarder,” the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza quoted him as saying. “The boys do not like policemen and security guards.”

But the authorities can take some heart from the reaction of skateboarders to the advertisement published on internet forums dedicated to the pastime. Most condemned the advertisement, with many pledging to not to purchase any Guru Gomez clothes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Polish activists use images of aborted foetuses and Adolf Hitler in billboard campaign

From: Daily Mail
Controversial: The graphic billboard poster has been put up in Poznan, Poland, by anti-abortion group Pro
The anti-abortion group Pro said it was entirely legitimate to make a link between abortion and Nazi crimes.

Mariusz Dzierzawski, a campaign organiser, said: 'It is our duty to fight for the rights of murdered children.

'Abortion is a crime and drawing such a parallel is absolutely justified.'

The poster campaign, which is timed to remind Poles of Nazi rule during World War Two, also coincides with International Women's Day on March 8 - where feminists in Poland traditionally stage demonstrations to call for greater equality, including the right for abortion.

It has only been put up in Poznan, western Poland, but Mr Dzierzawski said Pro aimed to put it up in at least 30 other towns across the country.

Abortion in staunchly Roman Catholic Poland is illegal, except in a few cases. A recent survey showed more than two thirds of Pole are opposed to abortion, up slightly from 1998.

But reaction to the poster has been negative.

Aneta Turkiewicz covered her daughter's eyes as they passed the poster in Poznan.

She said: 'Words fail me... let's leave this topic to parents.

'They can explain the issue to their children more delicately.'

Magdalena Sroda, a professor of ethics who specialises in gender issues, said the poster was hypocritical.

She said: 'This is sick... fascism, Stalinism... prohibited abortion, often on pain of death, so bans on abortion are strongly linked to totalitarianism.'

Using Nazi symbols and images is politically sensitive in Poland, which lost around a fifth of its population during the German occupation, many of them in death camps such as Auschwitz built by the Nazis on Polish territory.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

False rape claim

From: NPE
A woman who claimed she had been brutally raped has admitted that she had in fact invented the whole thing.

Anjelika P., of Krosno Odrzanskie, originally told police that the attack had taken place in her own home, but came clean after investigators suspected that the story was false. Another woman, Dorota W., said that they were initially attacked on their way to work, but has since retracted her claim. “Neither of the women can explain why they decided to report a crime that never actually happened,” said police spokeswoman Agata Lubuska.

They now face up to three years in prison.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Homosexuals win legal victory against Poland

From: FT
Poland may not discriminate against homosexual couples, in spite of a clause in the its constitution stating that marriage is “a union of a man and a woman”, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in Strasbourg.

The court found, in a unanimous ruling released on Monday, in favour of Piotr Kozak, whose partner died in 1998, and who had his request to continue lining in their municipal flat in the western city of Szczecin turned down, in spite of a provision in Polish law allowing a “person who has lived in de facto cohabitation with the tenant” to succeed to the tenancy.

The Strasbourg tribunal recognised the difficulty in maintaining a balance between traditional marriage and the rights of sexual minorities but found that the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights is “a living instrument” and has to be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions. It also found that, in this case, Poland did not have a clear interest in discriminating between heterosexual and homosexual couples.

The case was greeted with joy by gay and lesbian groups in Poland.

“This is a very important case because it shows a certain inequality before the law,” said Yga Kostrzewa, spokeswoman for Lambda Warsaw, a homosexual rights group. “There will certainly be many more cases like this because there are a lot of laws and regulations that do not treat people equally.”

The ruling was viewed much more cautiously by conservatives and the Church. In an interview with the Catholic KAI news agency, Bishop Stanislaw Stefaniuk said the decision was dictated more by ideology than by the law. He said: “We still have not reached the ‘success’ of having homosexual unions treated the same as marriages but verdicts like that of the tribunal are supposed to be a guidepost for Polish courts.”

Gay rights are a controversial issue in overwhelmingly Catholic Poland. Opinion polls show that almost half of Poles feel that homosexuality is a deviance, and, except for the small ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance, no parliamentary parties are interested in pursuing the issue.

“The current parliament is very conservative, so it is unlikely to undertake any work on this subject,” said Ms Kostrzewa.

Poland became a gay-rights target after attempts by Lech Kaczynski, then the mayor of Warsaw and now the country's president, to ban a gay rights parade in 2004 and 2005.

Friday, March 12, 2010

crackdown on 'sponsoring'

From: NPE
'sponsoring' is a big problem in Poland
Katowice police have started a campaign against teenage prostitution amid growing concern that increasing numbers of high-school girls are selling their bodies for fashionable clothes.

Police officers will tour schools and shopping malls warning girls that while prostitution might provide cash for clothes it brings with it many dangers.

“We do not want to teach children how to easily earn money, but to show them that prostitution is linked to drug addiction, alcoholism, venereal diseases, HIV / AIDS and trafficking in human beings,” said Sergeant Adrianna Mazur, the programme’s designer from the police in the southern city of Katowice.

The programme comes amid mounting evidence that more girls are using their bodies as means to access fashionable clothes and gadgets such as mobile phones that are generally beyond the meagre financial resources of a teenage.

A recent survey of 15-year-old girls in Katowice found that 67 per cent of them had a friend or peer who had engaged in prostitution, and, experts warn that given the shadowy nature of the practice the true level may well be higher than any estimates.

“We all know that the problem exists, but really no-one really knows the scale of the problem because prostitution is not punishable, and disclosing it is not in the interests of the minors or their customers,” said Sergeant Mazur.

The problem has been fuelled by the internet, which provides girls with easy advertising. Websites full of girls looking for a “sponsor” are common place on the net, and experts also point out that mobile phones have made it far easier for girls to tout their bodies by texting photographs, and to arrange meetings with clients.

“Child prostitution is a serious problem, which has now moved to the malls and to the internet,” said Pawel Spiewak, president of, adding that the problem is often compounded by the child’s failure to regard the practice as prostitution.

“In the minds of these girls, prostitutes are the people who work in brothels or stand by the road. Hopefully the programme developed by the police in Katowice will open the eyes of young people,” he explained.”

Police have also said parents should shoulder some of the responsibility for the problem through their failure to ask their children where they got the money for any expensive clothes or phone they might have.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wroclaw corruption and Blackjack Affair link

From: The News
RZECZPOSPOLITA informs of a top secret investigation into corruption of public sector officials in Lower Silesia.

May sound nothing out of the ordinary, but a list of names which are allegedly involved in the affair include some of the key witnesses in the ongoing Blackjack Scandal. One of them is Mr. Ryszard Sobiesiak, an influential businessman and casino owner who is one of the main suspects in the gambling scandal. RZECZPOSPOLITA writes that the enquiry has been run by the Organised Crime Prosecution Office in Krakow since October 2009, precisely when the Blackjack Scandal surfaced. Prosecutors are refraining from giving any comment, but it has been confirmed that members of the Blackjack Commission have been informed of the findings, which may be crucial to the whole affair, reports RZECZPOSPOLITA.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Polish-Swiss team probes Warsaw metro-gate corruption case

From: The News
The Minister of Justice is looking into a corruption scandal involving the purchase of rolling stock for Warsaw’s Metro train system, involving local authorities and bankers from Poland, Switzerland and Spain.

The first Polish-Swiss criminal investigation team in history was formed in October 2009 as a result of an agreement between the Polish Justice Ministry and the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office.

The team, which consists of investigators from the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) and from the Federal Criminal Police in Bern, are investigating whether Warsaw officials received bribes in exchange for fixing the results of a tender on the supply of trams and wagons to be used by Warsaw Metro.

The tender worth over 150 million dollars was won by the French transport giant Alstom. The investigators suspect that Warsaw officials were bribed between 1998 and 2002, when the chairman of the Democratic Party, Pawel Piskorski was involved in a series of alleged corruption scandals.

The international team will also investigate if Warsaw officials laundered money in Switzerland.

Several suspects have been arrested in Poland, Switzerland and Spain in connection with the case. In January, the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau detained Bohdan Z., former head of the Warsaw Metro and the Prosecutor’s Office in the western city of Wroclaw charged him with corruption. The Swiss police detained a former clerk at the Coutts bank who allegedly acted as a middleman between Warsaw officials and the company or individual who tried to influence the tender. Finally, two weeks ago Spanish police arrested Tadeusz N., a former Warsaw city hall official who is suspected of bribing the head of the Warsaw Metro.

The Spanish police was supposed to arrest Tadeusz N. in January but they could not find him even after the court issued the European Arrest Warrant on him. Therefore, the Polish Justice Minister Krzysztof Kwiatkowski asked the famous Spanish investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon, who arrested the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, for help.

The investigation into corruption at the Warsaw city hall was initiated by the testimony of Peter Vogel, an infamous “cashier of the left”, murderer and later banker in Switzerland who is accused of conducting illegal business transactions of Poland’s prominent left-wing politicians. Vogel reveled that bribes were transferred to Warsaw officials’ secret bank accounts in the Coutts bank in Zurich.

Now, the Polish-Swiss investigation team is establishing, where the money deposited on the Poles’ accounts came from.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cash-strapped cops

From: WBJ
The Polish police has found itself suffering from financial woes recently, resulting in it reducing the number of trainings for its officers. Some specialized equipment is lying unused as well, since there are not enough trained officers to use it.

The Polish police force has been forced to slash training training expenses in recent months in a bid to save money. The force has shortened training and even canceled some seminars, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reported last week.

Experts worry this could result in safety threats to the public.

Due to the lack of trained personnel, a number of recently-purchased high-speed Triumph motorcycles and police dogs are never used. Unionists denounced this waste of money.

Police spokesperson Mariusz Sokolowski commented that unlike the past year, 2010 will be a year of training for the Polish police, with a higher number of specialized courses. “The Office of Personnel and the Training Police Headquarters are collecting information on the number of people who should be trained as soon as possible in specialized workshops,” Mr Soko?owski told Gazeta Wyborcza.

He admitted earlier reports that motorcycles are parked unused in garages, but said that this situation is not due to lack of trained officers who can ride them, but to the cold weather.

Training times

It takes seven months for a police officer to be fully trained – the shortest period of any force in Europe.

Mr Soko?owski said that the training actually comprises six months of schooling, and nearly two months of practical training. In comparison, Czech officers are trained for 18 months, and their German counterparts three years.

Wages form the bulk of the Polish police force’s budget. There are currently around 103,000 officers in the force, as well as 12,000 civilian employees. The annual budget for 2009 was zl.6.951 billion – a 10-percent reduction from 2008.

Last fall, Commander in Chief of Police Andrzej Matejuk told Gazeta Prawna that despite an expected increase of about 7.8 percent and continued funding from the modernization program of the Police and the EU, the police budget in 2010 would still be a difficult one.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Unemployment rises, sales fall short

From: WBJ
Registered unemployment rose to 12.7 percent in January, according to figures released Tuesday by the Central Statistical Office (GUS).

This means more than 2.05 million people are officially out of work in Poland, with 31,000 registering in January alone – about one fifth more than the previous month.

Company retail sales measured at current prices gained just 2.5 percent in January from a year earlier, falling short of the five percent predicted by analysts.

Taking just larger companies, employing 10 or more people, into account, the figure fell by 1.1 percent.

The last time there was a year-on-year drop in sales was in February 2009 and the drop is the biggest since January 2005.

Economists blame a mix of seasonal factors, job market problems and the effect of the severe winter.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Complaints against Polish travel agencies rise

From: WBJ
Although the tourism market shrank by 10 percent in terms of sales last year, Poles are increasingly often expressing dissatisfaction with overseas holidays.

The number of complaints about dirty or aging hotels and poor service appearing on the web portal HolidayCheck is increasing, said the site's Anna Lewinska.

Complaints directed by customers to their travel agents are also becoming more frequent.

"In 2007 we recorded 328 complaints to tour operators," said Marta Milewska, spokeswoman for the Mazowsze provincial government. "In 2008 we already had 506, then last year 528, of which as many as 150 cases were applications for compensation ofter the collapse of the Kopernik travel agency."

According to estimates by industry representatives, there may have been as many as 5,000 complaints across the whole country.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Polish Panty Pilferer Placed in the Poky

From: NPE
A 28-year-old man was arrested by police in Ostrowiec this Sunday evening for stealing ten pairs of knickers in a string of separate incidents. Following the final theft, a pair that were hanging out to dry, the owner of the knickers alerted police, who were able to follow the man’s footprints through the snow which led them directly to him.

At the moment of his arrest the man was completely drunk, with 0.15 percent of blood in his alcohol. Nine of the pairs had been used by the man to decorate a nearby bus stop, the tenth polka-dotted pair were still stuffed in his coat pocket. The matter would probably have ended with a caution or a fine, but for the fact that the man also tried along the way to break into and steal two cars. As a result, the man now faces charges with a potential total of ten years in prison.

Smugglers held

In Sandomierz this Wednesday police arrested two men and a woman in possession of 1,600 packets of cigarettes and 13 litres of alcoholic spirits which had been smuggled into the country in two separate incidents. First, officers stopped a Polish man from Tarnobrzeg and a female Ukrainian citizen with 600 packs of cigarettes and the neat alcohol. Later, a resident of Lubaczow was stopped in a routine search and found with 1,000 packets of illicit cigarettes in his vehicle.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Young Poles as lazy as Italians?

From: The News
Poles aged between 15 and 24 years are among the least professionally active Europeans, shows a new EU report.

Young Poles have almost caught up with Italians when it comes to economic activity, according to data collated by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency. Only 35 percent of Poles aged between 15 and 24 years have a job - in Italy the figure is 30 percent. Three or four years ago the number of working young Poles was almost 50 percent.

The average age of a Pole entering the labour market has gone up to 22 years. Young Dutch and Danish start their first job at the age of 16 or even 15 and Germans at the age of 18. The average age for the whole EU is 20 years.

The reason why young Poles are delaying entering the workplace – some would say adulthood - is partly because most of them are still in education.

“An increasing number of young people continue their studies beyond compulsory schooling in order to have better chances on the labour market or, simply, because they do not want to work yet,” says Aleksandra Strojek from Sedlak&Sedlak, quoted in the Metro newspaper. He adds that in Poland many people still believe that as long as young people are learning, they are not obliged to work.

Young Poles are not eager to start an independent adult life, postponing the decision to leave the parental home as long as they can. Females, on the other had, generally tend to move out earlier - by two or even more years - than young men. Young women usually move out from their parent’s home at the age of 28 and men at the age of 30 – compared to 31 years old in Italy).

By the age of 34 as many as 80 percent of women live independently. For men the number is lower. Meanwhile, women in the EU tend to leave the parental nest at the average age of 22 and for young men, the average age is 26.

The report by Eurostat shows that young people predominantly remain with their parents for material reasons - 44 percent of Europeans aged between 15 and 30 say they cannot afford to move out. The other reason is simply laziness. Some young people admit that remaining with their parents allows them to live more comfortably with fewer responsibilities.

“Young people have no motivation to start independent life. They say that there is no use working for pennies,” says Strojek. Instead, they take money from their parents, live from scholarships or earn money on the black market, usually by giving private lessons.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Poland admits role in CIA rendition programme

From: Guardian
The Polish authorities have for the first time admitted their involvement in the CIA's secret programme for the rendition of high-level terrorist suspects from Iraq and Afghanistan, it emerged today.

After years of stonewalling, Warsaw's air control service confirmed that at least six CIA flights had landed at a disused military air base in northern Poland in 2003.

"It is time for the authorities to provide a full accounting of Poland's role in rendition," Adam Bodnar, of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, said.

"These flight records reinforce the troubling findings of official European inquiries and global human rights groups, showing complicity with CIA abuse across Europe."

For years, European and human rights investigators have believed Poland played a key role in the secret renditions programme, which became a human rights scandal for the George Bush administration.

An extensive Council of Europe investigation in 2007 found that "especially sensitive high-value detainees" were held at a prison facility, rented by the CIA from the Poles, near the Szymany airfield in northern Poland.

The Polish authorities told the investigators they were not aware of flight data that would reveal the traffic in kidnapping.

But following a freedom of information campaign from the Helsinki Foundation and the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative, the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency released flight data showing that at least two of the aircraft used in the CIA operations flew from Kabul and Rabat, in Morocco, to Szymany at least six times between February and September 2003.

"We know that CIA detainees were held in those two locations in the period in question," the campaigners said.

The two aircraft, a Boeing 737 and a Gulfstream V, were US-registered and previously known to be part of the CIA operation.

"In the past, the Polish government denied its involvement in rendition. It failed to provide any of these flight records to previous investigations," the campaigners said.

Analysis of the flight logs also indicated an attempted joint coverup by the CIA and the Polish authorities, with the aviation authorities being told that several of the flights were destined not for Szymany but for Warsaw.

"The CIA filed 'dummy' and false flight plans, or no flight plans at all, for the incoming and outgoing flights of N379P," the campaigners added.

"[The Polish aviation authority] collaborated with the CIA by accepting the task of navigating these disguised flights into and out of Szymany airport without adhering to the requirements of international flight planning regulations.

"The most remarkable aspect is that the Polish government, which maintained for more than four years that no such records existed – or that, if they did, they were untraceable – has now provided an apparently comprehensive list of these landings, compiled and presented in an orderly and coherent fashion."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Polish police release suicide statistics

From: WBJ
Polish men are more likely to commit suicide than women, according to statistics released by the police force. As many as 5,900 Poles attempted to take their own lives in 2009 – a figure comparable to the number of lives lost through road accidents.

Those males who are more statistically likely to commit suicide have problems at work, often turn to alcohol and display noticeable signs of depression.

According to the police statistics, in 2009, 4,839 men attempted suicide with 3,739 being successful. During the same period 645 women took their own lives.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Polish ferry terminal - port of call for corruption?

From: WBJ
Possible corruption which involves PO and PSL politicians is being investigated.

The former head of Ferry Terminal Swinoujscie (FTS), Agnieszka Szewczyk-Jurczyk, is being investigated by the Prosecutor's Office for allegedly paying for services which were never realized, Gazeta Wyborcza has reported.

Politicians from Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People's Party (PSL) are also among the people allegedly involved in the case.

FTS manages the ferry port Swinoujscie, one of the biggest terminals on the Baltic. It is owned by Polish Terminals, which is headed by Bartlomiej Pachis, the leader of a regional branch of PO. In turn, Polish Terminals is under the control of the Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaports Authority, whose president is PO politician Jaroslaw Siergiej.

The transactions in question took place between March and October 2009, when Ms Szewczyk-Jurczyk was head of the FTS. She joined PO in July, but left in October when she resigned from her post at the ferry terminal.

“We are investigating what happened to the money from the contracts,” Jaroslaw Przewolny from the Chief Prosecutor's Office in Kamiel Pomorski told Gazeta Wyborcza. The investigators were alerted by the supervisory board of FTS, which investigated Ms Szewczyk-Jurczyk's activities after she left the firm.

One of the contracts was signed with Daniel Dziwulski, who helped run several election campaigns for PO MP Magdalena Kochan. He was to be paid zl.500,000 over three years for marketing services. Although he was to receive zl.15,900 a month, a few days after signing the contract he collected zl.140,000. FTS's supervisory board has been unable to find exact details of what services Mr Dziwulski actually provided for the company.

Another deal was signed with a company headed by Agnieszka Szewczyk-Jurczyk's husband, PSL member Wlodzimierz Jurczyk. She is also a co-owner of the firm.

In addition, the supervisory board found that some invoices had been paid without any proof that the contractors had actually fulfilled their obligations.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Poland: football fans play with lawyers

As polite fans would probably say, the condition of Polish football is at least "debatable", and others might use more crude words. The corruption and inefficient management of the Polish national football leagues are the tip of the Iceberg. This situation causes frustration of many people who try to blame the Polish Football Association (PZPN) for all their miseries. Some of these people decided to take matters into their own hands. They formed the Association of Defenders and Supporters of the Polish Football. They registered (end of Polish Football Association) as an Internet domain name and started to host a website with critical publications on PZPN under that domain. One didn't need to wait too long before lawyers representing the Polish Football Association entered "the game". New players acting on behalf of the Polish Football Association requested the court to issue a preliminary injunction in order to secure the case for the future action for trade mark protection and for the protection of personal rights.

The District Court in Lódz, I Civil Division, in its order of 14 January 2010, case file Ico 203/09, decided to grant the injunction and ordered the prohibition of placing at website the following trade marks owned by the PZPN: R-142616, R-170024, R-188961 i R-188962, the Court also ordered a block on the access to the content of the website available under domain name. The Court set the PZPN a two-week deadline for lodging the petition instituting proceedings for trade mark protection and the protection of personal rights under the pain of withdrawing the injunction in case no lawsuit was filed by that date.