Poland’s Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a presidential pardon granted to a controversial government official and three of his subordinates and ordered a new trial. The stunning verdict in the years-long legal battle over amnesty ran counter to the interests of the ruling Nationalist Party. It was therefore a rare act of independence from the Supreme Court after years of attempts by the Law and Justice party and President Andrzej Duda to tighten control over the judiciary.
Duda’s advisers criticized the court’s decision, arguing that it had no right to overturn Duda’s pardon. Ruling party spokesman Rafal Bochenek called the court’s decision “undemocratic”. Opposition politicians, who have accused government agencies of undermining democratic standards, welcomed the court’s decision against current interior minister and intelligence director Mariusz Kaminski. It was the latest blow to law and justice in recent days after discontent with the government sparked mass protests by hundreds of thousands on the streets of Warsaw and other cities Sunday. The next day, the European Union’s Supreme Court in Warsaw dealt a further blow to the government by ruling that key elements of Poland’s judicial reforms violated EU law.
Kaminsky was sentenced to three years in prison by a court in 2015 for his abuse of power as head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, the National Anti-Corruption Agency, from 2007 to 2009. His former deputy, today deputy interior minister, Machej Wasik and two other officials of the anti-corruption office were sentenced. They appealed their convictions, but Duda pardoned them in 2015 before an appeals court could hear their case. His pardon came a day after Mr Kaminsky was appointed minister of secrets and intelligence in the new government that took office following the 2015 election victory for law and justice. Kaminski is an ally of party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
The pardon was controversial at the time, with many legal experts saying the president’s pardon should only apply to cases that have already been appealed. During oral arguments on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said Duda lacked the power to grant a pardon. But the problem is more complicated. Legislative reforms initiated by Law and Justice after the 2015 election victory also caused legal unrest, with critics of regime change often blamed for “quasi-courts” that took over illegal trials under the law. It refers to a “quasi-judgment”. Polish law.
The government has successfully exercised political control over another Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, which ruled last week that the Supreme Court does not have the right to exercise legal control over presidential pardons. rendered a verdict. Supreme Court Justice Milek dissented, saying, “The Supreme Court is of the view that the Constitutional Court’s decision has no legal implications.