The Polish Disciplinary Commissioner of Judges Przemyslaw Radzik opened an investigation into the judges who withheld the enforceability of all preventive measures taken against lawyer Roman Giertych. In a hearing on 3 December, the same bench will handle the case on the merits. ‘This is an obvious attempt to put pressure on the court’, says his defence attorney Jakub Wende.
A story by Magdalena Gałczyńska for Onet.
Twelve people were detained in the middle of October, including Ryszard Krauze and Attorney-at-Law Roman Giertych. The matter was related to the investigation regarding the removal and appropriation of a total of approx. PLN 92 million from the listed property development company, Polnord.
Charges were pressed on the detainees of the misappropriation of the company’s funds and with causing a huge amount of damage to the company’s property, as well as money laundering. They are facing up to 10 years imprisonment for this.
Roman Giertych fainted while a search was being conducted at his house in Józefów near Warsaw and was taken to hospital. The prosecutors wanted to charge him there. The prosecutors maintain that the activity was conducted effectively. However, Giertych’s defence attorneys claim that they could not converse with him.
The investigators filed a request with the court to temporarily arrest Ryszard Krauze, Sebastian J., Piotr Ś., Piotr W. and Michał Ś.
The prosecutors also wanted Giertych to a financial guarantee of five million zlotys, be under police supervision and be prohibited from leaving the country. The prosecutor’s office also prohibited him from practising the profession of attorney-at-law.
Suspension of enforcement
The District Court in Poznań set aside the prosecutor’s requests for his arrest and they were all set free. The Regional Court upheld that decision several weeks later. The court is also supposed to consider the complaint filed by Giertych’s defence attorneys against the preventive measures taken against him on 3 December.
However, earlier (on 17 November), the judges suspended the enforcement of the decision to apply these measures, so that the former Deputy Prime Minister could return to practicing his profession.
And it was this decision in which the disciplinary commissioner for judges, Przemysław Radzik, took an interest. At the end of last week, he asked the Poznań Stare Miasto District Court to send him all the documents on the method of organising the sitting.
‘Mr Radzik requested these documents last Thursday or Friday,’ the press officer of the Poznań District Court, Judge Aleksander Brzozowski tells Onet.
‘He justified this by the fact that he is conducting an investigation into the possibility of disciplinary offences having been committed. This is why he asked for documentation on the examination of the motion for a stay on the execution of the decision of the prosecutor’s office,’ he explains.
‘The commissioner is interested in all documents regarding, among other things, the setting of the date of the sitting and how the bench was appointed. In a word, all the documents on the method in which this November sitting had been organised,’ explains Judge Brzozowski.
He adds that this documentation has not been sent yet. The press officer for the Poznań Regional Court simultaneously mentions that Radzik did not request access to a copy of the files of this case.
The court received Radzik’s request just a few days before the same bench from the District Court for Poznań Stare Miasto is to examine the merits of Giertych’s defence counsel’s complaint about the preventive measures applied by the prosecutor’s office.
‘Desire to create a chilling effect’
‘This is an obvious attempt to put pressure on the judges, who will be examining our complaint this Thursday about the preventive measures taken by the prosecutor’s office,’ this is how Roman Giertych’s defence attorney, Jakub Wende, describes Commissioner Radzik’s activities to Onet.
‘This is also a desire to create a so-called chilling effect, just a few days before the court with the same bench examines our complaint on its merits,’ he emphasises.
‘The sitting of 17 November, at which a decision was made to suspend the enforceability of the preventive measures, was held behind closed doors, because that is how it should be. It was held absolutely in accordance with the rules of criminal procedure. Such meetings are, in principle, held behind closed doors. The court may decide to hold a hearing in public, for instance, because of an important public interest,’ explains Counsellor Wende.
‘The prosecutor is playing dirty’
The lawyer also points out that, in his opinion, the prosecutor’s office is ‘playing dirty’ in Roman Giertych’s case.
‘One of our complaints, of which there are a total of seven, regarding my client’s forced detention, strangely found its way to the District Court for Warsaw Wola. A complaint about the detention can either be heard by the court with jurisdiction over the place of residence, or the court where the proceedings are being conducted. We correctly addressed the complaint to the District Court in Poznań, but the prosecutor’s office forwarded it to the Warsaw Wola District Court,’ outlines the lawyer.
‘Of course, the court in Warsaw acknowledged that it does not have the jurisdiction to hear this case and sent our complaint back to the Poznań Stare Miasto District Court, where we wanted it to go,’ says Counsellor Wende. ‘However, the result of the actions of the prosecutor’s office is that we have already lost a month, and the case has not been heard. The Prosecutor’s Office is simply playing dirty, it is simply not right, it is unethical, it is not in line with the rules of criminal procedure and it is not in line with the principles of decent behaviour of the parties,’ he comments.
Who is Commissioner Radzik?
Przemysław Radzik is the president of the District Court in Krosno Odrzańskie, appointed by Zbigniew Ziobro, adjudicating in a posting to the largest court in Poland, the Warsaw Regional Court, through the will of the Minister of Justice. He is a district court judge, but the National Council of the Judiciary recently positively recommended his promotion by two levels, namely to the Warsaw Court of Appeal – now the President will decide on whether or appoint Radzik to this office.
Ziobro appointed Radzik to the post of deputy disciplinary commissioner of judges in June 2018 – after a complete remodelling of the disciplinary court system by PiS. Among other things, Radzik became famous for wanting to initiate investigations into 1200 judges from all over the country. This was about all those who asked the OSCE to monitor the presidential elections in Poland.
Radzik was also in favour of removing Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn from adjudicating after he wanted to read the previously secret letters of support for the NCJ – it was Radzik who presented the disciplinary commissioner’s arguments to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court when it decided on 4 February 2020 in the second instance that Judge Juszczyszyn would be suspended in his duties.
Mr Radzik was responsible for the President of ‘Iustitia’, Judge Krystian Markiewicz, being charged with as many as 55 disciplinary offences about allegedly inciting judges to refuse cooperate with the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which was appointed by PiS, and undermining the legality of the new NCJ.
It was Przemyslaw Radzik who wanted to punish – and previously suspend Judge Olimpia Barańska-Małuszek, a judge from Gorzów Wielkopolski, from her duties and to reduce her salary. According to Deputy Commissioner Radzik, she was supposed to have slandered Zbigniew Ziobro on Twitter. However, in mid-January 2020, the disciplinary court at the Court of Appeal in Wrocław dismissed the case.
Commissioner Radzik’s wife, Gabriela Zalewska-Radzik, has recently been positively recommended by the NCJ to the Supreme Administrative Court – she is a legal counsel by profession and has no judicial experience. Zalewska-Radzik has been the director of the District Court for Warsaw Żoliborz since February 2020, a decision made by the Deputy Minister of Justice Michał Wójcik.