The Public Affairs Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court has overturned a decision made by the parliamentary speaker to revoke the parliamentary mandate of former interior minister Mariusz Kaminski. Kaminski, a member of the former ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), had been convicted of abuse of power. The Supreme Court’s Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs upheld Kaminski’s appeal against the decision of Sejm Speaker Szymon Holownia to strip him of his seat.
A similar decision was also made regarding the revocation of the mandate of Maciej Wasik, Kaminski’s deputy under the PiS government. Both Kaminski and Wasik were sentenced to two years in prison in December for abuse of power and illegal operational activities related to a 2007 land scam. The ruling, issued by a Regional Court in Warsaw, is considered final.
Following the court’s decision, Holownia had ordered the revocation of both MPs’ mandates on December 21. However, the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs, which waived Holownia’s decision, is not recognized as a court under EU law according to the Court of Justice of the European Union. As a result, Holownia sent the appeals to a different unit of the court, the Labour Chamber, which doesn’t raise such concerns.
Adam Bodnar, Poland’s new justice minister, emphasized that the December 2023 ruling by the Warsaw Court of the second instance is binding. He stated, “A final court judgment was issued convicting Mariusz Kaminski and Maciej Wasik for abusing their powers and official crimes related to illegal provocation; this judgment is a binding judgment.” Bodnar also noted that the president’s pardon, issued after the first instance, had no legal force and was not effective, leading to the expiration of their parliamentary mandates and a ban on holding public office.
The current pro-EU government has accused PiS of politicizing the Supreme Court and causing chaos in Poland’s justice system. The situation has raised concerns as two different chambers of the same Supreme Court appear to be issuing contradicting rulings. In 2015, President Andrzej Duda had pardoned Kaminski and Wasik after they were initially sentenced to three years in prison for masterminding an anti-corruption provocation in 2007. This move was disputed by Duda following Holownia’s recent decision, asserting that the application of the power of pardon to Kaminski and Wasik means there are no prerequisites to terminate their mandates.