Detention of Authorities Critic in Poland Raises Fears of a Crackdown

Detention of Authorities Critic in Poland Raises Fears of a Crackdown

A outstanding lawyer and outspoken critic of Poland’s authorities was detained on accusations of cash laundering on Thursday — and was later taken to the hospital after a fall, in circumstances that stay unclear — elevating considerations that the federal government is stepping up its efforts to stifle dissent.

The lawyer, Roman Giertych, who has been concerned in a sequence of high-profile circumstances towards members of the governing Legislation and Justice social gathering, was positioned in handcuffs by a particular anticorruption unit exterior a Warsaw court docket. He has additionally represented outstanding opposition figures, together with Donald Tusk, the previous president of the European Council.

Later, throughout a search of his house, Mr. Giertych fell unconscious on his toilet ground and was rushed to the hospital. Additional particulars concerning the incident weren’t instantly obtainable from the authorities, however his daughter, Maria Giertych, stated he had scuffled with an officer.

Stanislaw Zaryn, a spokesman for the authorities, stated late Thursday that Mr. Giertych was in “good situation” and present process medical examinations. However Jacek Dubois, a lawyer who has labored with Mr. Giertych, contradicted that evaluation and stated he had been instructed by the household that Mr. Giertych’s situation was “very severe.”

The authorities denied accusations that the detention was politically motivated.

A authorities spokesman, Piotr Müller, stated he was unfamiliar with the small print of the case. However, he added, “I perceive the anticorruption companies had grounds for detention.”

Mr. Giertych was anticipated to be charged with “appropriating firm funds and inflicting upon them monetary losses of nice proportions, in addition to of cash laundering,” stated Anna Marszalek, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s workplace.

The Polish Bar Council expressed its “biggest concern” over the detention.

“Whatever the grounds for the detention of Roman Giertych and for looking out his home, these actions are distinctive due to his skilled involvement in circumstances by which politicians of the ruling social gathering are concerned,” the pinnacle of the council stated in a press release.

Lately Mr. Giertych has turn out to be one of the crucial vocal critics of the federal government in Poland, taking particular intention at judicial modifications pushed by means of by Legislation and Justice and its chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The actions have been condemned by worldwide observers and have been on the coronary heart of tensions between Poland and the European Union, which views the modifications as a risk to the rule of regulation and the bloc’s democratic values.

Mr. Kaczynski, who has additionally been making an attempt to quell a insurrection in his governing coalition as he faces rising public anger over the federal government’s dealing with of the coronavirus, took a brand new put up this month as deputy prime minister. The place provides him authority over the nation’s safety equipment, and a few observers concern that he’s utilizing that energy to focus on critics.

Few critics of the federal government have been extra vocal than Mr. Giertych. Most just lately he accused it of mismanaging the pandemic, writing on Twitter that there was “blood on their fingers.”

Poland reported a report variety of new coronavirus circumstances and hospitalizations this week. There may be growing concern that the nation’s well being care system will likely be overwhelmed, and critics of the federal government say it has not finished sufficient to arrange for the virus’s present second wave.

Mr. Giertych was additionally concerned in circumstances that threatened to the touch on the dealings of high-ranking authorities officers.

Mr. Dubois, who labored with Mr. Giertych on the case of Leszek Czarnecki, a high-profile businessman at odds with Legislation and Justice, stated the timing of the detention was not coincidental.

“Mr. Giertych instructed me final week he obtained maintain of paperwork discrediting essential members of the federal government,” Mr. Dubois stated in an interview. “They wished to remove him in the future earlier than the trial of Mr. Czarnecki was imagined to happen.”

Mr. Czarnecki was a central determine in a corruption scandal in 2018, when he accused a authorities monetary regulator of soliciting a bribe.

Adam Bodnar, Poland’s official ombudsman, stated the style of the arrest raised the “highest considerations and demanded explanations.” He declined to touch upon the deserves of the case, however stated he wished to know “what circumstances justify this type of plan of action.”

Mr. Giertych’s spouse, Barbara, who can be a lawyer, stated she had been given little details about her husband’s detention.

“For the primary time in my life, in my skilled profession, I’m experiencing a state of affairs the place I don’t know what’s the context of the detention,” she instructed TVN 24, an area media outlet.

Anatol Magdziarz contributed reporting.

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