Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Warsaw gynaecologist arrested

From: NPE
A Warsaw gynaecologist was arrested by officers of the Border Guard this week for faking certificates of pregnancy for the girlfriends of illegal immigrants. The 43-year-old doctor was detained after the scam came to light in which he would prepare the documents which would then be used to assist in the immigrants applications for residence here.

As fathers-to-be, their cases were looked on more positively by officials. Apparently some of the immigrants also married the Polish women involved.

“We know of at least a dozen such cases. It was immigrants from Africa that were taking advantage of this method,” commented Agnieszka Golias, press officer for the Border Guard. The man has been charged with three counts of faking medical documents and faces anything from 6 months to ten years in prison.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pop princess Doda to do time?

From: NWE
Controversial singer Doda is facing the prospect of doing two years behind bars for alleging that the Bible was written by people with a fondness for drinking too much wine and smoking herbal cigarettes.

Warsaw prosecutors have taken a dim view to off-the-cuff comments the 26-year-old singer made during a television interview a year ago and have charged her with insulting religious sentiment.

Dorota Rabczewska, to give the performer her actual name, got into trouble when she said she believed more in dinosaurs than the Bible because “it is hard to believe in something written by people who drank too much wine and smoked herbal cigarettes.”

For conservative Catholics, already uneasy with Doda’s unbridled penchant for showing off her body, the singer’s comments provoked consternation.

Ryszard Nowak, chairman of the Committee for the Defence Against Sects, claimed that by calling the Bible’s authors “drunkards and junkies” she had offended the “religious feelings of both Christians and Jews.”

They filed an initially unsuccessful complaint with the prosecutor’s office but their luck changed after
investigators quizzed experts as to whether Doda’s comments were insulting. If found guilty Doda, who has a string of hits to her name, could face two years in gaol or a fine.

The comments, which have already won Doda the dubious distinction of being banned from the public television network TVP, are the not the first time that she has courted controversy.

When a juror on a television show, she was censored on more than occasion for swearing during live broadcasts.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Brazil arrests Polish pedophile priest

From: Press TV
In the latest episode of a sexual abuse scandal surrounding the Roman Catholic Church, Brazil has put a Polish Catholic priest on trial.

Alexandre Abrahao Teixeira who is overseeing the case described the priest, identified only by his initials as MMS, as "a person compulsively attached to sex with adolescents," AFP reported on Saturday.

His home was like "a sort of erotic dungeon where these youths were thrown into orgies," said the judge.

According to Teixeira the priest used his spiritual authority to force teenagers into having sex with him.

If convicted, the priest who ran a church in the west of Rio de Janeiro will face 10 years imprisonment.

The emergence of pedophile priests has sent tremors across the Roman Catholic Church in recent years. Even Pope Benedict XVI has been implicated in the scandal.

He has been accused of trying to cover up such abuses when he was an Archbishop.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Non-crew in cockpit when Kaczynski died

From: Nine msn.com
Non-crew members were in the cockpit of the plane of Polish president Lech Kaczynski before its fatal crash in Russia in April, a top aviation official said.

"It has been established that in the cockpit there were individuals who were not members of the crew," said Tatyana Anodina, head of the inter-state air committee for the ex-Soviet Union which is investigating the crash.

"The voice of one of them has been identified exactly, the voice of the other, or the others, will require additional information from the Polish side," she added.

Ninety-six people, including Kaczynski, his wife and scores of senior Polish officials were killed in the crash on April 10 outside the western Russian city of Smolensk.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Teams punished after anti-Semitic banners at football match

Two football clubs from the south-east city of Rzeszow have been penalized and two people detained after an anti-Semitic banner was held aloft by fans during a local second division derby in southern Poland on May 8.

The banner was spotted among fans of Resovia Rzeszow during a match against local rivals Stal Rzeszow.

The fans chanted the “Arian horde is coming” and displayed a huge banner showing a caricatured hook-nosed Jew with a stripped blue and white yarmulke under the slogan: “Death to the Crooked Noses.”

Colours of the banner corresponded with the flag of Israel, costumes of Auschwitz camp prisoners but also the colour’s of the opposing Stal team’s strip.

Police from Rzeszow has already detained two 18-year-old Resovia fans responsible for putting up the anti-Semitic banner. They will be charged for violence against people of a different nationality, ethnic background, race, political views or faith, for which they may face up to five years in prison.

“The charges are serious because the banner calls for death,” says a prosecutor Ewa Lotczyk. Twenty more football fans, who held the banner during the match, are expected to be detained in relation to the case.

Lock out

The Polish Football Association (PZPN) has also punished the two rival football clubs from Rzeszow. In the coming month Resovia and Stal will play matches behind locked doors with no crowd and the latter will also have to pay a 2,500 zloty fine (627 euro) as it was the host of the match.

Polish Football Association (PZPN) representatives, who were present at the stadium, failed to react to the offensive banners at the time, however.

“It’s a scandal!” Resovia’s chairman and former Justice Minister Aleksander Bentkowski told the PAP news agency.

Police have already opened an investigation into the case.

The Anti-Defamation League has called on Andrzej Rusko, president of the Polish football league, to penalize the Resovia team.

“This sickening display of crude anti-Semitism is an alarming manifestation of a continuing problem in Polish society, where our opinion surveys and other polls have found disturbing levels of anti-Semitic sentiment,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director, quoted by the JTA agnecy.

Foxman pointed out only 700 of Rzeszow’s 15,000 Jews survived the Holocaust.

“We call on the league’s president to sanction Resovia Rzeszow and to apply the anti-racism practices of the European football authority, UEFA,” Foxman demanded, adding that “an equally important measure of society is how authorities react to such incidents.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Worked like a horse

From: NPE
A woman has been freed from torment after being subjected to 15 years of beatings and being forced to pull a plough across farm fields.

Since the age of 19, Irena Buzniak (now 34), was treated as a donkey by her husband and the rest of his immediate family in the small southern town of Limanowa.

It was only a few months ago that Irena decided enough was enough and she finally found the courage to flee her torture in order to find help from the authorities.

Such was the extent of her ordeal, that she has been forced to seek help from doctors in a psychiatric hospital.
Due to her brave decision to face her problems head-on, her previous family (including her husband) that kept her in a constant state of torment will now be brought to justice.

As well as being forced to carry the plough through the fields, she was kept locked up in a garage and was beaten and taunted with threats that she should be killed, in order to prevent her from begging for help.

Her husband Antoni (42), his two brothers Kazimierz (45) and Jozef (39) and their mother, Emilia (81) now face up to 10 years behind bars for their part in the wicked ordeal.

“I honestly believe the punishment that all of them will hopefully be given will be fully deserved,” says Irena.

“The past 15 years of my life have been completely horrific and they are 15 years that I would like to forget,” she said with tears in her eyes.

Less than a year on from her ordeal, Irena is now living safely with her parents and her eight-year old daughter on subsidised government funding.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sex education in a mess

From: NWE
Sex education in schools is failing pupils and contributing to the high rate of teenage pregnancies in Poland, health and education experts have warned.

Every year some 20,000 teenage Polish girls give birth making the country one of Europe’s leaders when it comes to the number of mothers below the legal age of consent.

Without better education, groups advocating better family planning claim, this figure will remain high and perhaps increase.

“Young people have limited access to knowledge,” said Aleksandra Jozefowska from the Ponton Group of Sex Educators. “Schools have no reliable sex education, and in many cases the subject simply does not exist or only crops up when teachers are covering other topics. Young people who enter into a relationship have no theoretical knowledge on how to protect themselves.”

Sex education has become a sensitive subject in Poland. With the topic left to the discretion of regional education authorities, many prefer to opt out rather than risk incurring the wrath of the church or conservative parents.

The problem is particularly acute, apparently, in rural areas where resources are stretched thin or fail to exist.

With little or no help coming from the state, teenagers, added Ms Jozefowska, also fail to get support from their parents.

“Young girls, until they reach adulthood, cannot get a prescription for the pill alone,” she said. “If teenagers do not want their parents to know that they have started a sexual relationship, they will rather have sex without protection than ask for help from home in this area.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nude testament

From: NWE
A university professor faces up to two years in jail after walking into a church in Lodz completely naked.

Marek Wasilewski, who teaches at Poznan’s university department of fine arts, claims that he entered the mass without his clothes as part of a project - in order to examine what he describes as “public perceptions of nudity”.

The entire incident, lasting for a total of around 20 seconds, was captured on video by a professional film crew, to be viewed at a later date as part of the experiment. It is now believed that the footage will most likely be used as evidence by the courts.

The stunt has been condemned by priest Ireneusz Kulesza who was conducting the service at the time. “It is a complete desecration of the temple,” he said in a statement. “I couldn’t believe that I had seen it with my own eyes.”

Ewa Nowak, a local woman who happened to attending the mass claimed that the image disturbed her so much that she wasn’t able to rest. “I was shocked by what I saw - I didn’t manage to get a wink of sleep that night.”

“There is some tolerance for artistic statement but in this case the problem is that he didn’t tell anyone about it,” said Lodz police spokesman Adam Kolasa.

He added that as punishment for the stunt, Wasilewski now faces two years in prison.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dumb down exams give “equality”

From: NWE
The Ministry of Education (MEN) is looking at ways to ease the pressures of Polish high school students by making it simpler for children to gain promotion to the next grade.

The proposals have been met with fierce criticism from teachers across the country, many of whom feel that the level of marks needed to pass is already too low as it is.

MEN has backed up its plans by stating that moving up to the next year regardless of exam results already exists in primary schools, and it merely wishes to extend this idea to higher education.

“This change will allow for the equal treatment of students in this field for each type of school,” it said in an official statement.

One of the fears is that the ministry will decide to drop the compulsory exams altogether, allowing anybody access regardless of ability or the amount of work they have put in.

According to Prof. Martin King, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences and Rehabilitation at the University of Warsaw, “MEN may even cancel the assessment and pass everybody like flies. It could become so constructed that almost anybody will be able to progress.”

“Students should take responsibility for themselves and know that the transition to the next grade is contingent upon validation of each subject,” says Ronald Parzecki, deputy director of the Jan III Sobieski high school in Warsaw.

Such is the case that many students find themselves repeating a year - with some deciding to rise to the challenge to make the grades, and others deciding to leave.

“It’s just a sign that not everyone is suited to high school. But not everyone has to finish it” adds Parzecki.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lepper leaps back into limelight

From: NPE
Andrzej Lepper found himself back in the running for the job of president of Poland after the election committee reversed a decision barring the controversial politician from the race owing to his criminal record.

The National Election Committee (NEC), which is overseeing the organisation of the presidential election, ruled that Mr Lepper was free to take part in the vote, due to take place on July 4. This overturned its ruling made just 24 hours earlier which had ordered the politician’s removal from the list of candidates because of a slander conviction dating back to 2005.

Explaining the move, an apologetic Stefan Jaworski, the committee’s president, said that as Mr Lepper was waiting for his appeal against the conviction to be heard he was free to take part in the election. The NEC, he added, had been unaware of Mr Lepper’s appeal owing to incomplete records.

The about-face got an enthusiastic reception from Mr Lepper, a former farmer and deputy prime minister who leads the Self Defence party.

“I have no claim against the NEC,” said the Self Defence leader at a press conference in Warsaw. “I forgive the NEC for what it did yesterday.”

In his opinion, “the error was due to the fact that there are inaccuracies in the National Criminal Register”, and so he had no just reason to admonish the NEC.

The fiasco prompted the justice ministry to order improvements in the vetting procedures and to make sure the ministry’s database contained the latest information.

But although Mr Lepper can now rejoin the tussle for the country’s top job, the saga could return the glare of public attention to a past punctuated by clashes with the forces of law and order.

In February, the ex-farmer received a 27-month prison sentence after a court found him guilty of soliciting sexual favours from a party employee. Mr Lepper has also lodged an appeal against that conviction, which allowed him to enter the election race.

He has also faced numerous criminal charges in the past, including assault and criminal damage.

With his past back on the agenda, Mr Lepper’s already slim chances of having any significant impact on the election appear to be evaporating. Despite managing to come third in the last presidential election with a respectable 15 per cent, opinion polls now rate his popularity in single figures.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Polish police detain 5 football fans for unfurling large anti-Semitic banner at match

From: Canadien Press
Polish police said Friday that they have detained five football fans suspected of displaying large anti-Semitic banners at a match in southern Poland last weekend, while the country's soccer federation penalized the soccer club.

The banners were unfurled by fans of Resovia Rzeszow during a match Saturday against local rival Stala Rzeszow. One depicted a caricatured man with a large hooked nose wearing a striped yarmulke, a Jewish skullcap, in the blue-and-white colours of the opposing team. Those are also the colours of the Israeli flag and the skullcap's pattern evoked the striped prison garb worn by some prisoners at Auschwitz.

A second large banner read: "Death to the Hooked Noses."

Polish media reported that ahead of the game, fans marched through the city with a banner that said "The Aryan hordes are coming."

Police say in a statement that they detained five Rzeszow residents and charged two of them under a law banning public incitement against ethnic or religious groups.

Poland's football federation also banned Resovia Rzeszow fans from attending the team's games through the end of the season.

The Anti-Defamation League, a U.S. group that fights anti-Semitism, said it welcomed both the arrests and the punitive measure taken by the football federation.

Earlier in the week, the group condemned the incident, saying it was especially troubling given that only 700 of the 15,000 Jews who lived in Rzeszow before World War II survived the death camps that Nazi Germany set up on Polish soil.

"Jews were starved and executed in Rzeszow's ghetto, which was later transformed into a concentration camp for the region," the group said. "Some were sent to nearby death camps, while others were shot in the forest. Calling for death to Jews on the same spot cannot go unpunished."

Thursday, May 13, 2010


From: Daily Star
POLICE have been warned about posing for photos with Polish pranksters.

The move comes after two officers were fooled at Buckingham Palace.

They had their picture taken with a group of Poles, one of them clutching a handwritten sign bearing the initials CHWDP, which stands for the Polish for: “A dick up the police’s ass.”

Now the Metropolitan Police have issued warning notices showing the photo in London stations, above.

It reads: “In case some nice Polish tourists ask for you to pose with them, internet research has revealed that CHWDP is common graffiti in Poland.

“It is short for: ‘Penis up the bottom of the police.’ Don’t get caught out!”

A Met Police source said: “Now we know about this we won’t be falling for it.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Big Brother Hospital

From: NPE
Security cameras in Warsaw’s Wolski hospital are broadcasting images of treatment areas in breach of privacy laws and patients’ rights, it was revealed this week. Hospital administrators are adamant that the cameras are there for the security of patients and staff and see no problem. “Patients are observed to ensure their safety. They are areas where the hospital can’t guarantee constant supervision by nurses,” Jolanta Borowiecka-Tenus, the hospital’s Deputy Director explained to reporters.

However not all patients are happy with the situation, and neither is the Patient Ombudsman. “This is a blatant breach of patient rights, breaking the right to privacy and dignity. CCTV can be installed, but in public areas, not where treatment is given.” Krystyna Barbara Kozlowska told reporters, adding that the practices could see the hospital fined up to PLN 500,000

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How welcome are Poles in Northern Ireland?

From: BBC
Before the EU was expanded less than 30 Polish people lived in NI
It has been six years since Northern Ireland experienced an influx of Polish migrant workers under EU expansion.

But how many of those are beginning to put down firm roots? BBC News Online's Emily Thomas explores the integration of Polish immigrants in Northern Ireland.

The view that all Polish people in Northern Ireland are temporary migrant workers is beginning to fade.

As Polish Cultural Week draws to a close, Belfast has for the fourth year running been exposed to all things Polish, from decorative paper cutting to traditional folk music.

The festival does more than display Poland's cultural offerings. The scale of the 11-day event reflects the presence of Northern Ireland's large Polish migrant population.

And the recent recruitment of the first Polish police officer, due to begin work in Newry, Co Down, indicates genuine integration of Polish migrants is increasingly taking place.

This is quite a progression from 2008 when it was revealed that no Polish people were accepted into the PSNI, following a recruitment drive in 2006 that attracted applications from 968 Poles.

Poles apart?

Dr Marta Kempny, of Queen's University, has studied Polish immigration to NI extensively.

She says immigrants find the place "very accommodating", and feel they receive great help from the local institutions and public sector.

But some evidence suggests the situation isn't always so rosy.

Race hate crimes have grown steadily in the past 10 years.

When police started recording racially motivated crime in 1996 there were just 41 incidents, but in the past year 712 racist crimes were committed, and 1,038 racist incidents reported.

A freedom of information request in 2009 revealed that 28% of racist crimes were committed against Polish people.

And in July 2008 an Equality Commission survey found negative views towards minority groups were considerably more prevalent than three years earlier.

These tensions have been shown through a number of racially motivated incidents.


In April, a Polish family's shop in Ballymoney was defaced with racist graffiti. Shortly afterwards the family said they would continue to trade - but would remove the sign saying 'Polish shop'.

In the same month the High Court in Belfast heard that there was a "racist motive" to the murder in Newry in 2009 of a Polish man, who had been kicked in the head and had his throat stamped on.

And in June 2009 it was claimed that 40 immigrants left their homes in Belfast amid tensions following riots involving NI and Polish football fans.

Maciej Bator, director of the Polish Association of Northern Ireland, emphasises that it is "just a minority" of people "who think NI is just for the British and Irish" and explains the rise in hate incidents as partly to do with increased awareness amongst Polish immigrants.

"After six years Polish people understand the mechanisms of defence: how they can get in touch with the PSNI and what a hate crime is, and they have the confidence to report crimes," he said.

He said the situation for immigrants is complicated by the "different rules" in "different communities", and says Polish people need "to learn the rules of both".

Dr Kempny acknowledges that discrimination is still an issue, but says it occurs "mostly at work places of individuals, who are often exploited and abused by their employers".

She says the "problem of ethnic hatred and prejudice" has been "gradually decreasing" since 2004, as locals have become more used to newcomers.

A "religious factor" still plays an important role in integration between the Polish and Northern Irish, she said, as "Polish people are considered as predominantly Catholics by the Northern Irish community".

"In my research I came across certain situations in which individuals who rented accommodations in the Protestant areas of Belfast, the Village in particular, have experienced incidents of hate crime", she added.

Dr Kempny emphasises that the process of integration has only just started, with the population becoming stable and people settling to have families and intending to stay permanently.

"More time is needed for some individuals to learn intercultural awareness and tolerance," she said.


And it's undeniable that Polish people and locals in NI faced a steep learning curve.

The rise in numbers of immigrants to NI over the past six years has been sudden and dramatic.

Before 2004 there were no more than 30 Polish people living in NI, according to Mr Bator.

Since then, the decline in paramilitary violence, the joining of Poland to the EU and the rise of unemployment in Poland led to an influx of Polish immigrants, with the Polish community now estimated to be around 35,000.

This amounts to less than 2% of the population, but a significant proportion of the migrant population; almost 60% of migrants to NI from the new EU states are Polish.


Official figures indicate that the immigration rate may now be slowing, partly due to the economic downturn and increased opportunities in Poland.

In fact, Poland is now experiencing its own influx of immigration, explored in Borders, a photographic exhibition for Polish Cultural Week, showing members of different ethnic groups wearing Polish national costumes.

Festival co-ordinator Ewa Grosman hopes that the festival will show the Northern Irish how much Polish culture has to offer.

"The week shows that Polish people in the community bring their own culture that is rich and worth exploring", she said.

Mr Bator says that Northern Irish people are already very curious about Polish culture, with many visiting Krakow.

"The Northern Irish are a bit suspicious at the beginning," he says, "but when you find a way to reach them they are very friendly and welcoming."

Monday, May 10, 2010

40 years illegal immigrant netted in Krakow

From: The News
A routine check by border guards from the Kraków-Balice airport discovered a Japanese man who has been illegally living in Poland for 40 years.

Officers were astounded when they asked for the ID of an elderly Japanese shopper during their check carried out near one of Kraków’s shopping centres. The man explained that he had come to Poland for the first time when he was 19. He studied Polish in Lódz for a year then enrolled to read economy in Kraków, where he then stayed for 23 years.

In that time he periodically travelled to Japan, returning to Kraków, where he finally settled in 2004.

By then all of his documents, passport included, were no longer valid. He told officers that he made a living from teaching Japanese. The man is now 59 and possibly for years he has been on the missing list in Japan.

He will now have to leave Poland in the nearest few days.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Polish banks trapped in their own monopoly

From: Polish Market
You will be forgiven for having missed the headline, but epic news was out just recently. News of herculean efforts that in ancient times would have forced the chroniclers to sit down with their pens to save the saga for the ages. In the current age, I've been handling the paeons, putting it up blow by blow on my service, capped with a recent six-part feature in April.

So here it is: The Polish chemical group Ciech signed a debt restructuring deal with its numerous creditors. After some 18 months of negotiations.
Underwhelmed? You shouldn't be.

Polish banks face huge problems when the time comes to restructure the debts of a troubled corporate client. Ciech is only the latest in a long line of tragi-comic examples. Troubles usually involve having too many banks around the table - seventeen in the case of Ciech.

Polish banks have a stranglehold monopoly on corporate finance as Poland does not yet have a corporate bond market that can attract serious financial investors. But the banks are too small to handle the financing of major firms alone. The result - any number of large-cap firms have loans at nearly every major bank in town.

To wit: the combined assets of Poland's commercial banks, now at nearly PLN 1 trillion, constitute a mere 17% of the group assets of Deutsche Bank. Poland's largest bank, the state-controlled PKO BP, has just 15% of that total. And prior to the financial crisis, more and more banks were working overtime to muscle their way in.

Tough market. Unless you were a large-cap borrower, that is. A financial director at any respected large firm could bicker down interest rates and often secure funding without even putting up fixed assets as collateral. When worse comes to worse - and it did - any number of banks find themselves negotiating debt restructuring without much collateral to back up their demands for repayment.

Find seventeen different banks around the table and you likely get seventeen different approaches to the client. Perhaps thirty-four, once you count in those foreign parents.

One bank throws the deal quickly to the collection team, a pretty "get-serious" approach. Another bank might go easy. Clients naturally begin to play one bank off another. Alternatively, one bank might have collateral and another might not, meaning one can play hard ball, the other can't. One bank might have the liquidity to rattle on with tough talks, one might be in a position of preferring fast cash. First versus last in, collateral, capital and liquidity strength and the attitude of the parent bank all shape behavior.

Why struggle in such talks for 18 months when a bankruptcy filing would do?, you might ask. Not Poland, where bankruptcy courts move slowly, are subject to numerous appeals and give creditors little sway over the actions of the receiver. The average bankruptcy runs three years and bears costs at up to 20% of the estate, the World Bank's and EBRD's 2010 report "Doing Business in Poland" states. Creditors recover an average of 30 cents on the dollar. The OECD average is a 1.7 year procedure bearing costs at 8.4% of the estate and with a recovery rate of 68.6%. Bankruptcy filings are reserved for only those cases in which a bank fears that a third party might cart away assets.

And those are just the standard barriers.

Ciech went the extra mile to make matters interesting. Ciech had taken some of the market's worst headlines in the FX options scandal that had given Poland its own form of toxic asset. Before Ciech could talk out a broader deal, the firm had to sit down with its banks to avoid a crushing margin call on FX options gone bad. Bankers started the game with a load of mistrust to the firm. When they saw that all their banker colleagues around town had sold speculative FX options to Ciech, they also lacked a lot of trust for one another.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Police track Polish man to mother’s house and bring him back to Britain

From: Telegraph and Argus
West Yorkshire Police today warned criminals there is no hiding place after a third Polish national was locked up for attacking a fellow countryman.

Remigiusz Klata, 26, was jailed for eight and a half years at Bradford Crown Court after he was brought back to the UK.

Detectives teamed up with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Interpol to bring him to justice.

Klata and his two accomplices inflicted grievous bodily harm on Artur Wojtowicz at his flat in Bankfoot, Bradford, in 2007.

He suffered stab wounds to his shoulder and hand and stamping injuries that left a shoe imprint on his back.

Rafal Krajewski, 31, of Manningham Lane, Manningham, was jailed for nine years last August after he was tried in his absence when he jumped bail and went back to Poland. He later handed himself in at Milton Keynes.

Grzegorz Holubowicz, 29, of Parsonage Road, Tyersal, was given a seven-year prison sentence after standing trial.

Klata, of Seaton Street, Barkerend, fled the country after pleading guilty in June 2008.

He was arrested on January 20 at his parents’ home in Poland and extradited to the UK. Klata’s barrister, Nick Askins, said he went back to Poland because of the death of his grandfather and did not return because he knew he was in trouble.

The Judge, Recorder Jonathan Sandiford, branded the assault a pre-planned “ordeal of injury and humiliation.” Klata played a leading role, holding a knife to Mr Wojtowicz’s throat and lunging at him with the weapon.

The judge commended West Yorkshire Police officers Detective Constable Julia Tiplady, Detective Constable Neil Sharpe and case worker Johanna Bolt for their work on “a difficult and, at times, distressing case.”

He praised officers for surmounting the language barrier and for their persistence in seeing all three men were brought to justice.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Polish police officer is the last person he should expect to harm him

From: NPE
A Warsaw resident was awarded PLN 80,000 this week for injuries suffered when a police anti-terrorist squad raided his flat, only to discover later they had the wrong address. The mix-up occurred in February 2008 when masked officers burst into the home of 28-year-old Piotr D. shouting, “On the floor!” before throwing the IT consultant to the ground.

As a result of the incident Piotr D. is unable to play sport and claims to have mental scars as well. He was demanding PLN 200,000 in compensation but Bialystok Police Headquarters, who ordered the arrest, refused to pay. Bialystok Police admit the mistake, but say it was the anti-terror squad, who come under the jurisdiction of the Central Police Headquarters in Warsaw, who should pay.

Delivering her verdict, judge Hanna Jaworska said, “Citizens should have faith that a police officer is the last person he should expect to harm him.”

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Outrage at Smolensk scavangers

From: NWE
The country was rocked this week by the news that less than a month after the tragic air disaster at Smolensk, people are making their way up to the site in order to scavenge around and find personal belongings once owned by the victims of the crash.

As ordinary citizens make their way up to the swamp ground to pray and pay their last respects to those who died in the airplane accident, many are taking the opportunity to stage their own personal ‘treasure hunt’, hoping to take away their own personal souvenirs from the crash that has caused deep shock amongst the nation.

While there have been calls from the Polish government to secure the area, it seems that little has been done by the Russian side to uphold the requests.

“As we arrived, there were already a line of parked cars on the road ahead of us,” says Mrs Wieslaw, who went to visit the site. “Not only that, but Polish trucks and several cars with Russian number plates too.”

And it appears that for those wishing to make a bit of an effort, the searching around in the mud and dirt has already paid off dividends.

Amongst some of the items that have been reported to have been found is a 36th Special Air Transport emblem from one of the onboard seats, fragments of the aircraft and other assorted cables and wires.

According to one searcher, Rafal Dzieciolowskiego, a member of his group was able to track down the passport belonging to Gabriela Zych, the Chairman of the Kalisz Katyn Families Association.

“We had to clean up the document first as it was covered in dirt, but it was still completely intact,” he says.

“But the worst thing we came across was a large piece of flesh,” continues Dzieciolowskiego. “It was slightly bigger than a human hand and caked in mud. It was monstrous and the smell left us with little doubt as to what we had found. The only thing to do was move to a dry patch of ground and bury it with dignity.”

While there have not yet been reports of people profiting from goods and items found at the site via the black market, one group told of how they were approached by a Russian man who was willing to pay for what they had found.

“On one occasion, we were approached by a Russian man offering us as much as PLN 500 for a piece of the plane, however we had already decided that we were not looking to profit from the trip and refused to discuss this matter with him.”

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Interview: 'The Only Politically Acceptable Explanation Is To Blame Polish Pilots'

From: RFE/RL
Parliament speaker and acting president, Bronislaw Komorowski
Twenty-two candidates are planning to participate in Polish presidential elections following the April 10 plane crash in Russia that killed President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of members of the country's top military, political, and church elite. The candidates include the president's twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the former prime minister.

As the country reels from anger and shock over the crash, Poles are also facing the possibility of a shift toward warmer relations with Moscow once the country is under new leadership. Evidence of such a thaw could be seen in today's decision by Moscow to release a batch of previously sealed files related to the 1940 Katyn massacre.

RFE/RL Georgian Service correspondent Nino Gelashvili talked to political expert Przemyslaw Zurawski vel Grajewski of the Natolin European Center in Warsaw and the University of Lodz about the emerging political situation in Poland.

RFE/RL: April 10 must have been a very emotional day. What were you most worried about upon hearing about the crash?

Zurawski vel Grajewski: Well, political stability is not the best word, but perhaps the political "balance" in Poland. Because even though there were politicians from all political camps who died in the crash, it was still the presidential camp -- connected to the Law and Justice Party -- that suffered the largest number of casualties. And this was the main party of opposition to the government's Civic Platform Party. Try to imagine 80 politicians from the U.S. Republican Party dying in a plane crash. That was the scale of the impact on the Polish political scene.

RFE/RL: How important was Lech Kaczynski in determining your country's domestic and foreign policy?

Zurawski vel Grajewski: He was a public enemy of the government. So Poland is deeply divided now. This has been the situation for the past two years. The president was the official head of the minority camp. I stress the word "official" since the real operational head was his twin brother. And the president was the target of very cruel and, in my opinion, unjust attacks during his presidency.

On the other hand, his supporters think that he was the symbol of a policy based on the dignity of Poland -- Poland as a real independent country that has its own point of view and that respects the point of view of smaller neighbors from the region, and not only that of great powers from the West. So for his camp, and for me as well, he was the symbol of an independent position -- the subject, not the object, of Central and Eastern Europe in relations with France and Germany, as well as Russia.

RFE/RL: Current polls show the Civic Platform candidate Bronislaw Komorowski, the parliament speaker and acting president, with a strong lead over Jaroslaw Kaczynski. But those polls were conducted before Kaczynski formally declared his candidacy. The elections are in mid-June. Is it possible to predict an outcome for the vote at this point?

Zurawski vel Grajewski: Every public poll that has been conducted in Poland since 1989 has proved to be wrong. They never guess the real result. I have no idea what the reality is right now. What I can say is that Komorowski was heavily criticized publicly for the speeches he gave during the period of mourning [following the crash]. They were very official and delivered without real sorrow. It was obvious that they weren't sincere.

But I don't think we can build any prognosis on that simple statement because a president is something more than a man who delivers speeches at funerals. There are two months ahead, and a lot depends on the results of the investigation of the origins of the crash.

RFE/RL: Are you hopeful the real cause of the crash will be uncovered?

Zurawski vel Grajewski: By the Russians? Of course, no. Whether the Polish services are able to do that, since the crash took place on Russian territory, I don't know. What I can say is that the only politically acceptable explanation is to blame Polish pilots. Because any other explanation would be cause for a huge scandal.

It could have been a mistake by the Russian air-traffic controllers, or the crash of a Russian-produced and Russian-repaired plane, or a deliberate action by the Russians -- all three of these scenarios would cause a huge international scandal. So the only acceptable political explanation is to blame the Poles. I think this will be the result of the Russian investigation.

Many people think Poland's relationship with Russia is going to change. Some say they will grow warmer, some say colder. Both of those views are now colored by the events of April 10. Do you see any potential for ties to improve?

Zurawski vel Grajewski: There's an expectation among a large part of the Polish population that ties will improve. In my opinion, it's very naive, but that's the way it is and that's part of our political reality. It's based on emotions. Ordinary Russians showed sympathy for our tragedy. On the other hand, we have to remember that there are real, tangible contradictions of interests between Poland and Russia. I mean contradictions in the energy dimension, contradictions as far as the future enlargement of NATO to include Georgia and Ukraine.

A lot depends on the Americans. If they maintain this "reset" policy with Russia, there will be no external power to support us. If we are too weak to oppose Russian interests, that could help reduce tensions. But the real reason for the reduction would be the fact that Russia was winning the game, not because the contradictions would disappear. Very few people speak publicly about this contradiction of political interests. The ones who could died in the crash.

RFE/RL: Do you think the Polish people care about the stance their future leader will take on Russia? Will it be an important election issue?

Zurawski vel Grajewski: Yes, I think it will. But Poland is deeply divided on that. I mean, there are a lot of people who think that we are too small and too weak to act independently. We currently have no American support, and of course no support from the EU, which is governed by the pro-Russian Germany and France. So we can do nothing -- that's one point of view.

The other point of view -- represented by a minority, by the late president's camp -- is that we have no other choice but to defend our own interests in cooperation with our smaller partners in the region. But I think this political camp is on the retreat. It has suffered the worst casualties.

I'm afraid that this naive point of view of relying on Western support will prevail and that we will try to "reset" our relations with Russia as well. And I'm afraid that Russia will play the way it played in 2006, with the Hungarians and the Czechs on one side and Poland on the other. At that time, the Czechs and Hungarians were good guys, and we were bad. Now, I think, we'll be chosen to be the good guys while the Baltic states will be the bad guys. And Poland won't be able to support Georgia as a state. The Polish state is paralyzed now. It will take a year, maybe two. ...It's a dangerous situation for all of us.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Up in smoke

From: NPE
Four hundred cannabis plants have been seized by customs officials in the small village near Ozarow Mazowiecki, central Poland.

Officers estimate a street value of around PLN 300,000 and three Vietnamese men have been arrested in connection with the haul.

Two of those in custody, were reportedly are illegal immigrants, having forged Bulgarian ID documents, according to Border Guard Section Agnieszka Golias.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Drunk driving offences up

From: The News
Over 2,000 drivers were caught drunk behind the wheel over the long May weekend in Poland, with 35 killed and 500 injured.

Police say the casualty rate could grow further as many were leaving it till Tuesday to make the journey home after visiting friends and family over the May1 to May 3 weekend.

The number caught drunk driving increased significantly compared to last year, said press spokeswoman at Police HQ in Warsaw, Grazyna Puchalska.

“Many [caught] were not those who got behind the wheel immediately after drinking, but those who drank the evening before,” she said, reminding the alcohol stays in the body and can be detected hours after drinking.

Such a mug

From: NPE
A 46 year-old mugger finally met his comeuppance when he bumped into an OAP from whom he had stolen a handbag several weeks ago.

The 70 year-old lady from Warsaw recognised the thief and tried to detain him by holding his jacket and hollering for help.

The mugger managed to escaped, but with the help of her sister, aged 67, she patrolled the area and called for police assistance when he reappeared with another man.

Eventually the thief and the other man, who was wanted for avoiding a 10-month prison sentence, were arrested.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Child porn gang detained

From: NPE
Ninety four people have been detained around the country suspected of obtaining and distributing child pornography.

The sting, codenamed ‘Operation Mermaid’, saw officers raid 84 separate houses and flats and bring in 94 people for questioning. In addition to this, 14 hard drives, 123 computers, thousands of DVDs and CDs, as well as a number of mobile phones and pen drives, have been seized.

According to an official statement from the National Police Headquarters, “So far 10 of those detained have been charged with possessing or distributing underage pornography.”

“Some of the suspects said that they had downloaded porn files by mistake, not being aware of their exact content. However, officers have managed to establish that they did so repeatedly,” said police spokesman, Mariusz Sokolowski.

“But some people do obtain this type of content by mistake or out of curiosity, not realizing that it is in fact a crime,” he added.

He continued, “Those who find themselves accidently in possession of such photos, contact the police as soon as possible.”

‘Operation Mermaid’ is the fourth major operation of its kind to have been carried out in the last two years. Last year over 1,000 people were kept in custody suspected of possessing underage porn, resulting in 300 being charged. This year alone has seen 120 people arrested in January and an extra 64 detained under suspicion of distribution.

The suspects face up to five years for possession, and eight years for distribution of the illegal images.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Prosecutors asked a Warsaw court to sentence 22-year-old to fifteen years in prison

From: NPE
Prosecutors asked a Warsaw court to sentence 22-year-old Tomasz K. to fifteen years in prison for the attempted murder of a taxi driver in Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki last June. His defence requested a lighter sentence on grounds of diminished responsibility.

The incident occurred when Tomasz K. completed a three-day drinking binge penniless outside a club in Nowy Dwor. He called the taxi with no intention of paying for the trip, but claimed he intended to settle the matter amicably.

But in a darkened area near Czosnow he wrapped a steel wire around the driver’s neck and began to throttle him. The driver had a small pen-knife attached to his keyring and succeeded in cutting the wire, at which point his attacker fled.

Tomasz K.’s defence argued that, “The accused acted in an irrational and unpremeditated fashion.” They also argued that his psychiatric problems meant he was emotionally unstable, lacked empathy and was liable to react violently in threatening situations.

However, the experts called by the court pointed out that, “In this situation there was no threat. His act bears all the hallmarks of a premeditated crime.”