New commission probes property restitution scandal in Poland
PR dla Zagranicy
A powerful new commission set up to probe controversial property restitution cases in Poland on Monday started hearings into a suspected web of malpractice.
Patryk Jaki, head of the commission probing a property restitution scandal. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański
The commission is 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 conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government has argued the commission is needed to address glaring cases of injustice.
But Gronkiewicz-Waltz on Monday told reporters said she would not appear before the body, adding: "I think it [the commission] is unconstitutional.”
Maciej Marcinkowski, dubbed a "trader in restitution claims" by the media, has been summoned for questioning by the commission in connection with the restitution of real estate on Twarda street in central Warsaw.
As a result, one of the best junior high schools in the capital was forced to move out from the site. Marcinkowski has been charged by prosecutors and is under arrest.
Amid media allegations of a massive web of malpractice involving 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)