In a recent ruling, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal has upheld President Andrzej Duda’s authority to grant a pardon to Mariusz Kamiński, the former head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA). Kamiński had been sentenced to three years in prison in 2015 for abuse of power, although his conviction was still under appeal at the time of the decision.
The tribunal’s verdict has sparked a debate among legal experts, with some questioning whether the power of pardon should be extended to individuals whose court rulings are final and absolute. In May 2017, Poland’s Supreme Court concluded that the presidential pardon could only be applied to those who had been lawfully convicted in judgments that were no longer subject to appeal.
The case involving Kamiński had been suspended due to an alleged jurisdictional dispute between the president and the Supreme Court. However, the suspension was lifted by the Supreme Court last week, allowing the examination of the competence dispute to proceed. Currently serving as the interior minister, coordinator of the special services, and deputy head of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, Kamiński’s position adds further significance to the ruling.
During the hearing held on Friday, the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland’s highest court, deliberated on the jurisdictional conflict. In its subsequent ruling, the tribunal declared that “The Supreme Court has no authority to oversee the president’s right of clemency. To permit such oversight would constitute a grave violation of the fundamental nature of the presidential prerogative.”
Kamiński’s conviction in March 2015 stemmed from his involvement in an anti-corruption operation that a Warsaw court deemed illegal and criminal. Alongside three other officials, Kamiński received a prison sentence. However, on November 16, 2015, President Duda granted pardons to all four individuals.
Kamiński had served as the head of the CBA in 2007 when the operation was conducted under his direction. Its aim was to expose an alleged “land scam” involving officials from the Ministry of Agriculture at that time. The aftermath of the operation resulted in the collapse of the ruling coalition, which included the Law and Justice party and two smaller parties.
In 2010, all four CBA officials were charged with various offenses, including abuse of power, illegal covert actions, forgery of documents, and deceptive evidence gathering.