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Blogger charged with insulting Polish president

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 16.01.2013 15:00
A 42-year-old man is due to stand trial under the controversial charge of insulting the Polish head of state, marking the second such case during the presidency of Bronislaw Komorowski.

President Bronislaw Komorowski on Sunday: photo - PAP/Andrzej Grygiel

Piotr W. (full name withheld under Polish privacy laws), published the offending article on the web site kontrowersje.net.

He claimed that in President Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Poland was run by two Russian cwele.

Cwel is a word used to describe criminals (typically sexual), who are fair game for sexual abuse from other inmates.

According to Jaroslaw Halikowski, a spokesman from the district court in Legnica, south west Poland, the article “repeatedly publicly insults the head of state,” thus violating Article 135 of the Criminal Code.

As noted by the Gazeta Wroclawska daily, in subsequent posts on his blog the accused denied any wrongdoing, stressing that his language had been interpreted too literally.

Last year, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) criticised Poland for sentencing another man, Robert Frycz (defendant's right to privacy waived) to 15 months community service for insulting President Bronislaw Komorowski.

“In a modern democracy criminal sanctions for insulting heads of state are out of place, especially since the European Court of Human Rights has for decades overturned such verdicts,” stated Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

Frycz, who ran a web site called antykomor.pl, in which users could shoot at the president in video games, is now awaiting a final verdict in an appeal court in Lodz, Central Poland. While Frycz's lawyers claim that the original sentence was too harsh, the prosecution argues that it was too lenient.

President Komorowski has repeatedly tried to distance himself from the Frycz case, stressing that he had no involvement in the issue being brought to court.

“Personally, I can manage without such legal protection,” he said in an interview with the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

“If you are in politics, you have to have a thick skin,” he added. (nh)

tags: crime, komorowski
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