Repressions for independence. A prosecutor did not want to arrest participants of the protest, so he was transferred.
Prosecutor Wojciech Pełeszok did not want to support the arrests of demonstrators. He was posted to a prosecution office at a level lower. This is how you break someone’s back: punishing, for example, for taking advantage of the guarantee of independence. Other prosecutors see this – and prefer to be obedient.
Wojciech Pełeszok is a prosecutor in the Court Division of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw. He received a case of an appeal against the decision of the Regional Court for Warszawa-Śródmieście, with respect to which he refused to arrest the detainee during the first demonstration after Julia Przyłębska’s verdict. The girl was charged with assaulting an officer – she threw a firecracker, which is in normal sales, in his direction. The court found no reason to arrest her.
The defendant’s lawyer, Agnieszka Helsztyńska, says that her client is a student in Warsaw, has a permanent place of residence and an excellent reputation. She is a member of aid organisations, works in a day care centre for refugee children, and has guarantees from a dozen or so people, including politicians, actors and a priest from the parish where she helps children.
The prosecutor’s office appealed to the Regional Court. This was just after Bogdan Święczkowski, the head of the National Prosecutor’s Office, issued orders to the heads of the prosecutor’s offices that they should prosecute the participants of the protests for anything possible, including the crime of bringing danger to health and lives.
Pełeszok represented the prosecutor’s office in court. Attorney Helsztynska says that, during the trial, he made a statement to the minutes that he is supporting the motion for the arrest, because he was ordered to do so in writing, but disagrees with it. The right to demand a written order is one of the few guarantees of the prosecutor’s independence described in Article 7 of the Law on the Prosecution Service. If a prosecutor takes advantage of this possibility, it means that he is forced to perform a procedural deed with which he disagrees. When issuing an order in writing, the supervisor assumes responsibility for it.
Demanding a written order in Zbigniew Ziobro’s prosecution service is treated as an act of disobedience, which every prosecutor knows. But a prosecutor cannot be punished directly for such a demand, because it is his statutory right.
I unofficially learned that Prosecutor Pełeszok was posted to the district prosecutor’s office from 1 December. He probably expected some kind of sanction. This cannot be officially considered a repression, although, in its annual reports on the state of Ziobro’s prosecution service, the Association of Prosecutors, Lex Super Omnia, lists posting downwards as one of the most frequent forms of repression. Its hard version is posting as far away from home as possible.
I asked the press officer of the prosecutor’s office, Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, about the reason for Pełeszok’s posting, but she did not reply to my e-mail, text message or phone call.
The authorities want the participants of the anti-government protests to be prosecuted as severely as possible. For this, they need obedient police officers and prosecutors. Not ones who doubt the sense of imprisoning a girl who is not demoralised and there is no indication that she intends to hide. Her arrest had the objective of deterring others from demonstrating. The invasion of pupils at home for sharing materials about the protests in the social media, the notification of schools and sending petitions to the family court with a charge of demoralising minors are also supposed to be deterrents.
Pełeszok’s posting downwards is almost certainly supposed to be a deterrent for prosecutors to exercise their independence. And it will deter those who value peace of mind more than professional honour.
The article was posted in Polish on Ewa Siedlecka’s blog at Polityka weekly website.