Polish President Duda Vows to Pardon Jailed Former Ministers

    Polish President Andrzej Duda has announced his intention to pardon two senior politicians from the former ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) for the second time. Mariusz Kaminski, the former interior minister, and his deputy Maciej Wasik were recently imprisoned after being convicted of abuse of power in connection to an anti-corruption provocation in 2007.

    The sentencing, finalized by Warsaw’s Regional Court of the second instance in December 2023, marked the culmination of legal proceedings initiated back in 2015. At that time, both Kaminski and Wasik were imprisoned for three years but were pardoned by Duda in November 2015.

    However, in June 2023, following a decision by the Supreme Court, the case resurfaced after more than eight years. The two politicians were again sentenced to two years in prison, leading to the controversial arrest of the MPs in the presidential palace on Monday and subsequent imprisonment on Tuesday.

    Expressing dissatisfaction with the situation, Kaminski and Wasik began a hunger strike on Wednesday. In response, Duda met with the wives of the imprisoned politicians on Thursday. Following the meeting, Duda stated that, “at the request of the ladies,” he would initiate pardon proceedings for both individuals, emphasizing his commitment to upholding constitutional standards throughout the process.

    Duda outlined the procedural steps, indicating that he would present the application for pardon to the Prosecutor General. He urged the Prosecutor General to consider suspending the sentence and releasing the incarcerated individuals during the pardon proceedings, invoking Article 568 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

    During a media statement on Thursday, Duda characterized Kaminski and Wasik as “the first political prisoners in Poland since 1989.” He expressed his belief that the swift court actions and the perceived brutality of the authorities’ actions were unusual by Polish standards. Duda suggested that the convictions might be related to the duo’s roles in serving the Polish state, prosecuting corruption, and unveiling scandals at the highest levels of politics.

    As the controversial proceedings against Wasik and Kaminski unfold, questions regarding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are likely to persist, adding to the ongoing political turmoil in Poland.

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