Harassing the judiciary by transferring judges
Yet another judge has been transferred from his post by force. Łukasz Biliński, justice of the District Court in Warsaw, known for acquitting protesters who were involved in blocking nationalist demonstrations, has been removed from ruling on criminal cases and transferred to the family division of the court against his will.
The decision was handed down by the president of the court, Maciej Mitera, who is also a member and spokesperson of the National Council of the Judiciary. The official justification for the decision is that the 9th criminal division of the court, in which Biliński worked, is being eliminated by a decision of the Ministry of Justice.
However, only Biliński is being transferred to a family division, with other judges assigned to different criminal divisions. Because Biliński’s rulings in cases involving protesters blocking nationalist demonstrations achieved a high profile in the media and were generally considered not to the current government’s liking, reassignment to such a low-key assignment as a family court could be seen as an attempt to repress the judge.
In October 2018, Biliński acquitted eighteen protesters who had participated in a sit-down blockade aimed at stopping a march of the National-Radical Camp (ONR). Supporters of the ONR were carrying banners with slogans such as “Poland for Poles” or “Death to enemies of the nation,” and are generally known for promoting radical nationalism, homophobia and xenophobia.
The peaceful protesters were pushed away by the police and later charged with disrupting a legal demonstration as well as blocking traffic on a public road. In his verdict favouring the protesters, Biliński argued that there was nothing shameful in their behaviour, and it cannot be considered negatively in the light of socially acknowledged norms.
On the other hand, Biliński noted that the nationalist march should have been broken up due to the xenophobic nature of its slogans, and highlighted the inaction of the police in this regard.
Asked for his opinion on the transfer, Biliński stated: “The decision to relocate me is surprising. I take it as a form of harassment. I am being transferred even though there are others with less seniority in the criminal division.”
According to the law on common courts, the order in which justices are transferred to other departments is linked to seniority. In the 9th department, where Biliński adjudicated, there are judges with less time in service, such as the deputy president of the court, Marcin Czerwiński.
Biliński is planning to file an appeal against the decision to relocate him. However, this appeal would have to be referred to the National Council of the Judiciary, a member of which is the President of the court who ordered Biliński’s transfer.
[By Martyna Olejnik]