In a significant turn of events, the Polish prosecutor’s office has lifted the temporary arrest of Wodzimierz Karpinski, a former minister and newly elected Member of the European Parliament (MEP). This decision follows the issuance by the parliamentary speaker confirming Karpinski’s assumption of a seat in the European Parliament.
Citing the parliamentary decision, the prosecutor’s office released a statement acknowledging the constraints imposed by the confirmation of Karpinski’s MEP status. “In connection with the issuance by the Speaker of the Polish Sejm of a decision confirming the taking up by Wlodzimierz K. of a seat in the European Parliament, the prosecutor has been forced to revoke the preventative measures applied to the suspect,” the statement read, highlighting the impact of this development on the ongoing legal procedures.
Karpinski, who secured the fourth position in the 2019 European Parliament elections, had been unable to claim his mandate earlier as the top two contenders were elected to the Polish parliament in October, while the third-ranked candidate had passed away in May.
The controversy surrounding Karpinski stems from his detainment on February 27 by officers from the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, linking him as a suspect in a corruption investigation. The inquiry, which also led to the arrest of former deputy treasury minister Rafal Baniak and two businessmen, centres on alleged irregularities in contracts worth approximately PLN 600 million (EUR 127 million) with Warsaw-based waste disposal firm MPO during Karpinski’s tenure as its head.
The National Prosecutor’s Office emphasized that previous court rulings had extended Karpinski’s temporary arrest based on compelling evidence suggesting his involvement in corruption. They specifically mentioned suspicions of accepting bribes nearing almost PLN 5 million (EUR 1.14 million).
Investigators highlighted concerns of potential “procedural fraud” by Karpinski and cited instances of actions that obstructed the ongoing investigation, affirming the necessity of pre-trial detention. The gravity of the charges against him, potentially resulting in a sentence of up to 12 years in prison, further underscored the prosecutor’s argument for the extension of Karpinski’s arrest.
The intertwining of parliamentary confirmation and legal proceedings has led to a nuanced and complex scenario, challenging the traditional course of legal actions against an elected official embroiled in legal controversy.