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Poland in the dock over alleged breaches of EU law

A senior Polish MEP says the authorities in Poland may have breached EU judicial law in the case of an entrepreneur who says he is the victim of a long-running campaign to discredit him.

By: EBR - Posted: Monday, January 13, 2014

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“This is a European election year, and it is time for all Polish politicians to distance modern Poland ever further from its Soviet past, and to make renewed efforts for Poland to continue to move closer to respect for the EU values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
“This is a European election year, and it is time for all Polish politicians to distance modern Poland ever further from its Soviet past, and to make renewed efforts for Poland to continue to move closer to respect for the EU values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

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by Martin Banks
 
Poland has already been castigated by the European Court of Human Rights for its long-running practice of detaining suspects without charge.
 
The Strasbourg-based court criticised Poland for imposing excessive lengths of pre-trial detention, failing to provide adequate reasons why pre-trial detention is necessary and failing to consider alternatives to pre-trial detention.
 
The criticism came in a report produced for Fair Trials International by the international law firm Clifford Chance.
 
Polish law dictates that pre-trial detention can be imposed for a period of three months, but defendants cannot be held in prison where other preventive measures suffice.
 
It has been alleged that Piotr Kalecinski, the state prosecutor in Wroclaw, Poland may be in breach of the EU´s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
 
This concerns recent raids by the Polish authorities on companies operated by businessman Marek Kmetko, a Polish national currently living in Zurich, which resulted in a number of arrests.
 
After more than 10 weeks in prison, six people who were detained on Mr Kalecinski´s orders still do not know what, if any, charges may be brought against them.
 
The detainees, who have been denied access to legal aid, have yet to receive notice of any charges.
 
A draft letter of complaint about their treatment has now been sent to the charity Amnesty International together with a list of possible breaches of the Charter of EU Fundamental Rights allegedly committed by Mr Kalecinski.
 
The raids by officers from the Wroclaw Prosecutor’s office were the latest twist in an investigation for alleged fraud-related irregularities.
 
The inquiry has been running for some three years and has involved two separate police raids on the Polish offices of K.u.K. International and SACMET in November 2012 and November 2013.
 
A Polish MEP, who did not wish to be named, said the case "gives cause for real concern."
 
He added, "I think there is a case to be made here that the authorities may be in breach of EU law. Given the continued detention without charge of these people this is something that needs looking into with some urgency."
 
His concerns are echoed by an international human rights expert who said the current detentions "risk contravening"  article 47 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.
 
This states that: “Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable period of time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law.”
 
“Everyone in the EU has the right to have their affairs handled fairly and impartially under Article 41 the Charter,” he went on to say, “and the administrative actions being taken at state level in Wroclaw risk taking Poland into the opposite direction from the commitments that have been made to respect the Charter of Fundamental Rights as a signatory of the EU Treaties.”
 
A spokesman for K.u.K International said, “It is unacceptable that innocent people should be imprisoned without charge, and without access to legal aid.
 
“We have already brought these matters to the attention of the Prosecutor General in Poland, the European Parliament's Petitions Committee, and we are now filing a formal complaint with Amnesty International drawing attention to the actions of Piotr Kalecinski and the breaches of human rights in Wroclaw.”
 
“This is a European election year, and it is time for all Polish politicians to distance modern Poland ever further from its Soviet past, and to make renewed efforts for Poland to continue to move closer to respect for the EU values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
 
For more information visit www.kmetkostory.org 

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