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Prosecutor preparing to charge former PM over CIA prison allegations?

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 30.05.2011 09:58
State prosecutors investigating whether there were CIA prisons in Poland want to charge members of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) including former prime minister Leszek Miller with crimes against humanity, over their part in the alleged secret CIA prisons in Poland.

Szymany military airport; photo - east news

The Gazeta Wyborcza daily publishes documents today showing that Prosecutor Jerzy Mierzewski, who was dismissed from the case two weeks ago due to “administrative changes” said a state lawyer last week, wanted to charge members of the SLD government, in power during the time the alleged prisons existed in Poland (2002-05) for breaking Poland’s Constitution, unlawful imprisonment, as well as being party to crimes against humanity.

The documents reveal a list of questions which prosecutors are thought to have asked a panel of experts, who were then supposed to cross-check international law as to the legality of the detention of prisoners whom the CIA had identified as members of al-Qaeda.

The prosecutors are said to be investigating the case on the basis that they have enough evidence to allege the prison - said to have held and tortured suspected top al-Qaeda leaders near Szymany airport in north east Poland - actually existed.

“The questions contain certain established facts which have arisen from the case,” the anonymous source who handed over the questions told Gazeta Wyborcza.

There are ten questions on the list, drafted by prosecutors Robert Majewski and Jerzy Mierzewski, asking for an expert opinion on the following:

- does international law regulate the functioning of detention centres for persons suspected of terrorist activity?

- does international law allow for such a detention centre to be excluded from the state’s jurisdiction in which it functions?

- what influence on the legal status of the detainee suspected of terrorism is the fact he recognised as a member of al-Qaeda?

- what is the legal status of such a person detained beyond the theatre of operations or outside occupied territories?


Prosecutors sent their questions in February and received answers which are contained in a 50-page report from the expert panel in May.

The legal expert opinion reportedly said that:

- there are no laws that allow for the creation of a centre run by a foreign special service which is not under control by Polish authorities;

- the functioning of such as centre and the detention of suspects there is tantamount to breaking the Polish Constitution as well as international conventions;

- detainees kept at the centre may qualify as victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity;

- regulations accepted by the USA (for example ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ such as waterboarding) are not in accordance with international law.

Though the new prosecutor on the case Waldemar Tyl claims that Mierzewski was dismissed from the case due to an “administration reshuffle,” the human rights organisation Helsinki Foundation fears that this might be the beginning of the end of the investigation, which could be shelved, as it has been in Lithuania, where similar allegations were being looked into.

“There was no objective reason for removing Mierzewski,” Adam Bodnar, a lawyer with the Helsinki Foundation said last week. “I am afraid that sooner or later the Polish investigation will discontinue the proceedings, as has happened in Lithuania.”

SLD MP Marek Siwiec told Polish Radio this morning that he was surprised that details of the three year-old investigation have been leaked to the press and did not rule out that Gazeta Wyborcza’s informant was leaking documents in revenge for the dismissal of the prosecutor.

Siwiec added that the crimes levelled against former prime minister Leszek Miller and head of state at the time, Aleksander Kwasniewski, are extremely serious, including crimes against humanity, and should be clarified as soon as possible.

“The existence of CIA prisons is undeniable. We just need to clarify whether they were in our country, and if so, whether the procedures used there [meaning torture] broke our laws,” he said. (jb/pg)

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