The National Public Prosecutor’s Office is prosecuting seven judges for taking decisions which favour an oppressed prosecutor
The special internal department of the National Prosecutor’s Office has called for a special investigation into seven judges from Cracow. All of them issued judgments concerning the prosecutor Mariusz Krasoń, who has been persecuted for displaying independence. This is a case of clear interference in the judges’ work, and of putting pressure on one of them.
The National Public Prosecutor’s Office has summoned three judges from the Court of Appeal in Cracow and four judges from the District Court in Cracow to a special investigation.
In January 2021, all of them are to appear at the office’s special internal department – which PiS appointed to prosecute judges and prosecutors – and give testimony in connection with the case of prosecutor Mariusz Krasoń from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow.
Krasoń and his prosecutor’s office are being tried in a Cracow court concerning the way in which he was victimised for his involvement in defending the independent prosecutor’s office and the rule of law.
The judges summoned to the special hearing have issued decisions on the Krasoń case. And as we can see, the prosecutor’s office did not like them.
“These rulings are not in question. But whatever their verdict may have been, it is unacceptable to interrogate the judges who issued them. This is open and unacceptable interference with the independence of the judges and the jurisprudence of the court,” says a person who is familiar with the work of the judiciary.
And he adds: “It’s also an attempt to intimidate the judge who is conducting the trial of Mariusz Krasoń and the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow and who will hand down the sentence in this case. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but the judges’ summons to the National Public Prosecutor’s Office comes before the hearing of Krasoń’s lawsuit, which is scheduled for next week.”
How to persecute prosecutors in Poland
Apart from working in the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow, Mariusz Krasoń is also a board member of the Lex Super Omnia association of independent prosecutors. The association defends the independence of the prosecutor’s office, and has strongly criticised minister Ziobro’s reforms. Many members of the association, including its former president, Krzysztof Parchimowicz, have been victimised and harassed.
Mariusz Krasoń is one of the prosecutors who has suffered most from this; he was the first to get the leadership of the prosecutor’s office, which has been forced to knuckle under to the prosecutor general, Zbigniew Ziobro, to adopt a critical resolution. This concerns a resolution by the Assembly of Public Prosecutors of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow of 15 May 2019, in which the prosecutors stated that there was no way of resolving the problem of the low wages earned by the prosecutor’s office’s employees, and that no action had been taken to improve the staff’s poor situation in the prosecutor’s offices.
Importantly, the prosecutors on the Assembly also referred in their resolution to “the limitation of the independence of prosecutors, both in the statutory and the actual dimension, relating to the exercising of supervisory functions by influencing their procedural decisions, bypassing the official route.” The payment arrears in the public prosecutor’s offices in the Cracow region were also mentioned.
One of the initiators of the resolution’s adoption was the prosecutor Mariusz Krasoń. However, he was soon subjected to a campaign of victimisation. First, the prosecutors’ disciplinary spokesman summoned all the prosecutors who participated in the Assembly to a hearing. Later, Krasoń and several other prosecutors were transferred to another department. And in July 2019 Krasoń was sent on a punitive, six-month placement to Wrocław, 270 kilometres from his home city; at the same time, he was relegated to work in the local district prosecutor’s office there. Krasoń was sent to Wrocław even though he is responsible for looking after his elderly parents. Behind this decision stood the National Prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski, who is a confidant of Zbigniew Ziobro.
The courts ruled in favour of Krasoń, so the prosecutor’s office investigated the judges
Despite being transferred to Wrocław, Krasoń’s spirit could not be broken. Nor was he afraid of the leadership of the prosecutor’s office. In connection with his placement in Wrocław, he filed a lawsuit against the parent prosecutor’s office, in which he insisted that his prosecutor’s office in Cracow was his workplace, and not in professional exile. In the background, there is the issue of discrimination against him and his unequal treatment at work. As part of this lawsuit, the courts in Cracow have issued several rulings on procedural issues.
First, the District Court in Cracow examined his request for a guarantee pending the delivery of the judgement. Krasoń wanted the court to suspend the decision by National Prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski on his placement in Wrocław. And the court did indeed issue such a guarantee, which the regional court then upheld. Nevertheless, Krasoń did not return from Wrocław because the regional prosecutor’s office in Cracow did not implement the court’s decision. Therefore, Krasoń applied to the district court for the guarantee to be enforced, and the court set a deadline to suspend his placement on pain of paying Krasoń’s fees. But the prosecution did not do that either. These procedures took some time, so the fees began to be charged 14 days before the end of his six-month placement. In total, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office has paid Krasoń 14,000 zloty (around €3100).
However, the courage of Krasoń and the court’s first decisions in his favour only further infuriated the leadership of the prosecutor’s office. The special internal department of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office became interested in his claim against the prosecutor’s office and the decisions to suspend his punitive placement in Wrocław. In February 2020, it requested the files of these cases. In response to journalists’ questions, the National Public Prosecutor’s Office admitted that it was investigating a possible abuse of powers by the Cracow judges who had issued the decisions to suspend Krasoń’s placement.
Now, it turns out that the National Prosecutor’s Office will interrogate as many as seven of the judges who have issued the procedural decisions in this case.
Who has the National Public Prosecutor’s Office summoned for questioning?
Three judges from the Court of Appeal in Cracow who recognised the complaint from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow have received summons to the hearings in January 2021.
The prosecutor’s office has contested the decision by Judge Jarosław Łukasik from the District Court in Cracow which/, who is hearing Krasoń’s case. It was he who in the first instance examined the prosecution’s motion to dismiss the claim.
In the opinion of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow, the district court could not hear the case because it does not have the legal capacity, and thus does not have the capacity of a court. In its opinion only the State Treasury, represented by the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, can be the defendant.
Judge Łukasik met this request of the prosecutor’s office with a refusal, to which the latter responded by appealing to the Court of Appeal in Cracow. However, this court also refused to reject the lawsuit, ruling that although the Regional Prosecutor’s Office did not have legal capacity, it could be sued in employment matters. This is allowed under the labour law because the Regional Prosecutor’s Office is Krasoń’s employer.
“The issue of the prosecution’s judicial capacity is obvious; it is something fundamental when it comes to interpreting the provisions,” an anonymous lawyer specialising in labour law told us.
So why did Krasoń’s employer want the lawsuit rejected? Was he playing for time? Did he want this trial to be conducted on the terms set by the General Prosecutor’s Office, which serves the state treasury?
Now three judges from the Court of Appeal in Cracow are supposed to explain this ruling to the National Prosecutor’s Office: Agata Pyjas-Luty, Monika Kowalska and Iwona Łuka-Kliszcz.
Another three judges from the District Court in Cracow have also been summoned to the hearing. They in turn examined the motion to exclude judge Łukasik from the Krasoń case. Judge Łukasik himself also submitted such a request, as he was in agreement with the criticism of the current prosecutor’s office, and did not want to be perceived as holding a bias in the Krasoń case. But the three-person panel from the District Court in Cracow dismissed the application for his exclusion, stating that they had no such concerns.
In January 2021 Judge Łukasik, who is conducting Krasoń’s case, will also be interrogated by the National Prosecutor’s Office.
All seven of the Cracow judges who have now been summoned to the National Prosecutor’s Office will be heard as witnesses. Does the prosecutor’s office want to learn more about the reasons for their rulings? Or is it considering bringing charges against them in the future for what it sees as their incorrect procedural decisions? If so, it is unacceptable to question them as witnesses beforehand, because one cannot demand that people against whom charges are to be brought should incriminate themselves by their testimony.
Translated by Jim Todd