A Warsaw court decided on Monday that former minister of transport in Donald Tusk’s government, Sławomir Nowak, is set to be released from custody after being arrested on corruption charges and spending nine months in detention.
It is worth noting that merely a few days ago Tusk himself was defending his former subordinate in an interview with liberal TVN 24. The former Polish prime minister accused the United Right of using the prosecutor’s office for political goals and suggested that Nowak was a victim of such a mechanism.
“Several months have passed since Nowak was detained. I do not judge the merit of the actions of the prosecutor’s office and court. I do not have that knowledge, but he deserves a just trial before an independent court. What is being heard are speculations and rumors that he is being detained with the aim of breaking him to force him to give some kind of political deposition,” Tusk said.
“I want to clearly underline that this in essence makes him a political prisoner. This lies heavily on my heart because he used to be my subordinate and this cannot go on,” Tusk added.
The court’s Monday decision has been associated by many commentators and observers with Tusk’s words from Friday.
Tomasz Sakiewicz, the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Polska, pointed out that “perhaps Tusk knew what the court’s verdict would be and decided to veil it. Everything is possible. They have rich contacts behind them. Judges and prominent Civic Platform (PO) politicians used to go out for coffee together.”
There have been several similar opinions.
“Donald Tusk said that Sławomir Nowak should go free, and he did. So, to whom do courts and judges belong to?” asked Sieci weekly publicist Stanisław Janecki.
“Tusk had just recently said in TVN 24 that ‘Nowak is a political prisoner’ and boom, what a coincidence,” said political cartoonist Cezary Krysztopa.
Right-wing politicians also commented on the court’s decision, emphasizing the control the old establishment still holds over the judiciary.
“Nowak and Tusk are laughing in our faces. The Third Polish Republic’s caste is doing well. These are the results of stopping the judiciary reforms three years ago. These are the results of ‘negotiating’ with the caste and Brussels. It’s time to return to the source and finish the judiciary reform with a hardline course,” Solidarity Poland MP Janusz Kowalski stated.
Nowak i Tusk śmieją nam się w twarz. Kasta III RP ma się dobrze. Takie są efekty wstrzymania 3 lata temu reformy wymiaru sprawiedliwości. Takie są efekty "negocacji" z kastą i Brukselą. Czas wrócić do źródeł i twardym kursem dokończyć reformę wymiaru sprawiedliwości.
— Janusz Kowalski (@JKowalski_posel) April 12, 2021
“As early as March 4, according to the Warsaw Court of Appeal, detention was an adequate preventive measure. A few weeks later, judge Agnieszka Domańska of the Polish Judges Association, Iustitia, had a completely different view. What changed in the meantime?” Deputy Minister of Justice Sebastian Kaleta pointed out.
Jeszcze 4 marca areszt według Sądu Apelacyjnego w Warszawie był jedynym adekwatnym środkiem zapobiegawczym.
— Sebastian Kaleta (@sjkaleta) April 12, 2021
Nowak was arrested by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) in July 2020. In addition, two other prominent figures were arrested. The three of them were detained on suspicions of corruption and participation in organized crime.
In early October 2020, Nowak faced further charges concerning so-called “active corruption,” alleging the former minister accepted money from the previous Orlen CEO Jacek Krawiec and former Polish Energy Group deputy head Wojciech T. in exchange for lucrative positions.
The Warsaw court decided to temporarily detain Nowak, and in early March, the decision was made to extend his detention.
On Monday, Judge Agnieszka Domańska from the Warsaw District Court refused to extend the former minister’s detention by another three months as prosecutors had requested. The court instead mandated restrictive measures against Nowak, including police supervision, a ban on leaving the country, suspension of his passport, and bail set at 1 million PLN (€220,000).
The prosecutor’s office said that it has filed a complaint over the matter.
Title image: Sławomir Nowak after leaving detention in Warsaw, source: TVP Info print screen.