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Police dismiss claims they caused rioting at Independence Day march

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 13.11.2012 09:08
A police spokesman says claims that violence at an Independence Day march on Sunday was caused by “masked police officers” are “absurd”.

Police at march on Sunday; below, police release photos of wanted men: photos PAP/policja.waw.pl

After one of the organisers of the nationalist 'March for Independence', Artur Zawisza, said that there were “dozens of photographs” showing “masked undercover officers” allowed into ranks of police officers - after which they started the violence that led to the detention of 176 people in Warsaw - Police Inspector Mariusz Sokolowski responded: “I have never heard anything so absurd in a long time”.

Flares, bricks and bottles were thrown at police on Sunday afternoon at the start of a nationalist march, one of three large demonstrations to pass through Warsaw on Independence Day.

But Artur Zawisza, a former MP for the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party and an anti-EU activist who led the nationalist demonstration, said that there is evidence the rioting was a “police provocation”.

“People in balaclavas were allowed into the ranks of the police, where they used violence against then, and then hid [behind their lines],” Zawisza told the TVN 24 news station.

“We have the photographs,” he says by way of evidence to back up his claim. “I saw masked officers in police protection,” he added.

Police Inspector Mariusz Sokolowski dismissed the claim, however, adding that the masked police officers, which could be seen moving around the area before and during the march, were from “anti-terrorist units” who had to maintain anonymity.

“Those were police officers who would rather be spending Independence Day with their families rather than fighting hooligans,” he said.


On Tuesday morning, police released photographs of men they were looking for in connection with the violence which injured 22 policemen, one after being hit on the leg with a paving slab and another being hit on the head with a bottle.

“These participants on the march commuted a violent assault on people and property,” said Captain Mariusz Mrozek at Warsaw city police HQ.

On Monday, prosecutors charged seven people with public order offences.

Police detained 176 people during Independence Day on 11 November in what was the second year in a row that the celebrations turned violent. (pg)

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