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POLAND: Kaczyński Tape Scandal - Legal Case

Apart from the immediate political consequences resulting from the emergence of tapes featuring Jarosław Kaczyński (outlined in the 29-30.01 CEC Dailies), the legal case brought against the PiS leader will define much of the political debates for many months to come. An offence notification against Kaczyński was submitted to the Warsaw Prosecution by attorneys of Gerald Birgfellner. The Austrian businessman argues that he was deceived by Kaczyński which resulted in the loss of a few million PLN of remuneration for preparatory works connected with the skyscraper construction for the company Srebrna.

Importantly, this is a notification in terms of criminal liability, which has to be pursued by the prosecution. Still, as commentators and opposition politicians argue, the Prosecutor General and Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro is not independent of the leader of the ruling party. If the prosecution drops the case twice, however, Birgfellner would be entitled to move through prosecution on a private accusation. Legal experts note that the case, as it is presented in the media, is more apt for a civil liability case. In such a scenario, it is more likely that the alleged responsibility for unpaid remuneration would be transferred to the Board of Srebrna. For Birgfellner this would be an easier route as he would have to prove that he was not paid accordingly with prior agreements, while in a penal case he would have to prove that Kaczyński has personally deceived him. PiS politicians argue that the penal route was chosen to put Kaczyński in the limelight for political reasons, rather than to fight effectively for the allegedly owed payments.

Commentators note that, in the recordings and other information released to the public thus far, there is no hard evidence of a crime committed by Kaczyński. Still, it is likely that the matter will appear before court at some point in one form or another. This in itself will be a hit for PiS and Kaczyński who will have to testify on his involvement with the skyscraper construction project run by Srebrna. For the opposition, this will be a chance to highlight that Kaczyński has purposefully obfuscated his involvement with the company