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New commission to probe property restitution scandal in Poland

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 05.05.2017 11:05
A new law comes into force on Friday that allows a powerful new commission to be set up to probe controversial property restitution cases in Warsaw.
Warsaw City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsWarsaw City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The commission is expected to start work at the end of May, investigating a scandal over the restitution of prime real estate in the Polish capital that has seen the dismissal of several officials at Warsaw City Hall, and calls for mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz to resign.

The commission will be able to uphold restitution decisions or revoke them and to decide that owners can be stripped of unlawfully obtained property.

The conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government has argued the commission is needed to address glaring cases of injustice.

The opposition has argued that the commission will encroach on the powers of the courts.

Officials fired

Amid media allegations of a massive web of malpractice involving Warsaw officials, Gronkiewicz-Waltz last year announced that City Hall was firing three staff over the restitution of a prime plot of land on Chmielna street in the centre of the capital.

Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw mayor since 2006 and a leading light in the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party, said that the decision to transfer the plot was “hastily taken” and that the three officials involved did not consider “all of the circumstances of the case”.

The origins of the scandal date back to the seizure of property under the October 1945 Bierut Decree, named after former Polish communist leader Bolesław Bierut, which legalised the confiscation of plots of private land in the capital.

Thousands of private buildings were taken from their owners. After the fall of communism in Poland in 1989 it has been possible to submit claims for the return of such confiscated property. (pk)

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