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17 Jan, 2024 22:16

Court orders forced feeding of ex-Polish minister

Mariusz Kaminski has been on a hunger strike in protest over political persecution
Court orders forced feeding of ex-Polish minister

Former Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski will be force-fed in prison because his health is in danger, President Andrzej Duda announced on Wednesday.

Kaminski was arrested on January 9 along with his former deputy, Maciej Wasik. Both men declared that their imprisonment was political and announced a hunger strike – which is not allowed under Polish law.

“Today I received information from the wife of Minister Mariusz Kaminski that a court order was issued to force-feed him, because his condition began to threaten his life and health,” Duda said at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Kaminski and Wasik were arrested inside the presidential palace, as they tried to seek sanctuary with Duda from a conviction they claimed to be purely political in nature. The two men ran Poland’s Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) from 2006 to 2009, when they were fired by then-PM Donald Tusk and charged with abuse of power.

In March 2015, a Polish court found them guilty and sentenced them to three and a half years in prison. In October that year, however, Tusk lost the election and Duda issued the two men a presidential pardon.

The Polish Supreme Court challenged this decision in 2017, setting up a clash with the government. The US and EU intervened in the dispute on the Supreme Court’s side, accusing Warsaw of disrespecting law and order.

Both Kaminski and Wasik are members of the Law and Justice party (PiS), which ran Poland from 2015 to 2023. Though it won the most seats in the October election, PiS came short of a parliamentary majority, so Tusk returned as prime minister in mid-December. Another Polish court then reopened the proceedings against Kaminski and Wasik and found them guilty within a week, sentencing them to two years behind bars.

PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has described the two men as Poland’s “first political prisoners since 1989.” One Polish outlet reported last week that Duda intended to obstruct the work of Tusk’s government so long as they remained imprisoned.

According to the Polish news outlet Onet, Duda intended to send letters accusing Tusk of violating Polish laws and the constitution to the heads of all EU countries, US President Joe Biden, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission for Democracy through Law.

It was unclear whether any of those institutions would be receptive to Duda’s protests, however, as Tusk was president of the European Council from 2014-2019 and leader of the European People’s Party (2019-2022), the largest bloc in the EP, before his return to Polish politics.

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