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POLAND: Srebrna - Kaczyński takes legal action

PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, reported the “Gazeta Wyborcza” and its journalists to the State Prosecution on the suspicion of committing crimes of defamation. Kaczyński argues that the journalists broke the law by publishing a number of press materials – Srebrna scandal – in which claims have been made that he committed, or could have committed crimes of paid protection, abusing parliamentary power to obtain benefits and fraud. The article 212 of the Criminal Code forms the legal basis, it also provides for sanctions ranging from fines to imprisonment. This provision is widely criticised by experts and journalists for its potential to negatively affect the freedom of speech.

Legal action has previously been announced by PiS party members. Still commentators point out that Jarosław Kaczyński could have dealt with the matter through civil proceedings rather than engaging the State Prosecution via the Criminal Code. If the Prosecution takes the case, Kaczyński will have to be questioned – members of the opposition parties, however, argue that this is unlikely. Though, the ruling party has managed to nip this crisis in the bud, the opposition and “Wyborcza” will continue to cover the story, especially now fuelled by the potential actions of the Prosecution. It will be difficult for the ruling party to avoid some accusations that it is using the Prosecution to its own means.