Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), In a stunning development, Mariusz Kamiński, the former Minister of Interior, and Maciej Wąsik, the former Secretary of State, both prominent members of the “Law and Justice” party, were apprehended by the police on January 9, 2024, right within the Presidential Palace. The charges against them stem from an alleged abuse of power related to a corruption affair dating back to 2007, leading to the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Andrzej Lepper.
The case unraveled when two businessmen claimed they could facilitate the conversion of agricultural land to commercial land in Poland in exchange for bribes. The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau initiated a sting operation, where undercover agents, posing as Swiss entrepreneurs, offered bribes to expose the corrupt dealings. During the operation, the Bureau reportedly uncovered information implicating Andrzej Lepper, Janusz Maksymiuk, and another individual. At that time, both Kamiński and Wąsik held key positions in the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Political Shelter Crumbles: Pardons Reversed
As members of the “Law and Justice” party, Kamiński and Wąsik enjoyed relative immunity while the party held power. In 2015, President Andrzej Duda pardoned the ministers. However, their protection dissolved when a new Prime Minister from the opposition coalition assumed office in late 2023. Facing a minority position in Parliament, the security of the accused officials was jeopardized.
Despite President Duda’s ties to their party, the arrest warrants were executed, leading to a dramatic police capture within the Presidential Palace. Following the arrests, supporters of the “Law and Justice” party organized protests, expressing solidarity with Kamiński and Wąsik. The demonstrations, known as the “Protest of Free Poles,” featured slogans condemning the opposition and highlighting concerns about Poland’s direction.
New Government Takes Action: A Pro-European Shift
The arrest warrants were issued by the newly appointed pro-European government under Donald Tusk. This move signifies the beginning of the opposition coalition’s commitment to dismantling the policies of the “Law and Justice” party. Tusk’s Civic Platform has already started fulfilling promises, including the removal of two state-owned media leaders, aligning with their commitment to restoring independent media.
As Poland witnesses a significant political transition, the effectiveness of these changes remains uncertain. The arrests of Kamiński and Wąsik, coupled with the government’s actions, will be closely scrutinized to determine if they mark a genuine transformation or merely a façade concealing potential shortcomings in the new administration.
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