A former minister in Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk’s previous administration is set to be released from prison in order to take up a seat in the European Parliament, a move that would grant him parliamentary immunity from future jail time unless a parliamentary majority votes to waive it.
Włodzimierz Karpiński, who served as Tusk’s minister for state assets for seven years until 2014, is currently in pre-trial detention for corruption charges. However, he has revealed he will accept an opportunity to become an MEP, which has arisen as a result of outgoing MEP Krzysztof Hetman winning a seat in Poland’s domestic parliament in last month’s election.
The former minister was arrested in February of this year for his alleged participation in corruption over a contract for garbage collection involving the Warsaw City local authority of which he had been an official.
The corruption charges Karpiński is facing have been brought by Poland’s state anti-corruption agency, CBA, and relate to his time as head of the Warsaw City Waste Management Department.
He is accused of having taken a bribe worth in excess of €1 million from a company that was bidding for a garbage collection and utilization contract in Poland’s capital city.
Karpiński’s attorney, Michał Królikowski, told Polish commercial radio RMF FM that his client will accept his MEP seat. He assured that Karpiński would not try and avoid the investigation and that the only thing that would change is that he would now be able to defend himself without being behind bars.
After officially taking his MEP seat, Karpiński will be covered by parliamentary immunity and leave jail. Any future detention of the MEP would have to be agreed upon by the European Parliament.
He will remain in custody until at least Nov. 24 following a decision made in September by the Court of Appeal in Katowice, however, failing a judicial extension of his detention, will then be released.
Commenting on Karpiński becoming an MEP, Poland’s current Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro questioned whether the new MEP was “now likely to vote in the interests of Poland or the majority in the European parliament that will guarantee him continued immunity.”
“This is a first in the history of the European parliament. What an embarrassment!” added Ziobro’s conservative colleague, Jerzy Polaczek in a social media post.
Karpiński’s sons recently published an open letter in which they claimed their father was the victim of a politically motivated campaign.
“The entire narrative about the alleged acceptance of a bribe is based on slander, contrary to facts, evidence, and logic,” they added.