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Stand-off over Polish court ruling intensifies

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 10.03.2016 09:22
Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szydło is refusing to publish a ruling of the country's Constitutional Tribunal, thereby preventing the court's findings from being binding.
The ruling is beamed up onto the Prime Minister's Chancellery by protesters on Wednesday night. Photo: PAP/Jacek TurczykThe ruling is beamed up onto the Prime Minister's Chancellery by protesters on Wednesday night. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk

Protesters in favour of the court projected passages from the ruling onto the walls of the prime minister's chancellery on Wednesday night, while government and opposition politicians hurled accusations.

If Prime Minister Beata Szydło decided to publish [the ruling], she could be brought before the State Tribunal,” said Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who likewise serves as Attorney General following a recent appointment.

Ryszard Petru, leader of opposition party Nowoczesna said however that it would amount to a coup d'état” if the government does not respect the ruling.

Wednesday's ruling rejected amendments to the court that were passed in parliament in December, with judges insisting that the changes would prevent them from operating “reliably and efficiently.”

Both the government and the court have accused each other of being “unconstitutional.”

The government-backed amendments required 13 out of 15 of the court's judges to be present in rulings, rather than the nine necessary until now.

Only 12 judges participated in the recent session, prompting the Law and Justice government to insist that the ruling is not valid.

However, chairman of the Constitutional Tribunal Andrzej Rzepliński has said that “the ruling must be published, in line with the constitution.”

Poland to dispute Venice Commission

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has said that Poland will dispute the forthcoming ruling of the Venice Commission – an arm of the European Council – amid expectations that it will not look favourably on the amendments this week.

Waszczykowski invited the commission to Warsaw following a European Parliament debate in January about the rule of law in Poland.

However, a leak of the commission's draft ruling indicated that the human rights specialists will not support amendments to the Constitutional Court.

"We will dispute this opinion," Waszczykowski said on Thursday.

The current government has accused its predecessor of setting in motion the problems with the Constitutional Tribunal by appointing five judges before the 25 October general election. The court later ruled that two of these had been voted in prematurely. However, the court then rejected Law and Justice's bid to cancel out all five of the recent appointees with its own choices, ruling that three appointments were unconstitutional. (nh/pk)

Source: IAR/PAP

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