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Kielce. Libation in a mausoleum and a scandalous recording. The prosecutor’s office brought the first charges

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The prosecutor’s office brought the first charges in the case of an alcohol-infused party organized at the Mausoleum of Martyrology of Polish Villages in Michniów (Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship). The meeting was attended by, among others, the son of the voivodeship marshal and PiS councilor Bartosz Bętkowski and officials. However, the charge was brought against the security guard who recorded the surveillance footage. The prosecutor’s office is still looking for the person who made it public. The investigation into the desecration of the memorial site is still underway.

The recording showing the behavior of officials related to the Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów comes from July 12, 2021, but it did not see the light of day until later, in August 2023. The video recorded by the facility’s monitoring system and revealed by journalist Krzysztof Soczewiński shows how after the opening of the institution at the place of execution (German Nazis murdered over 200 people there), an alcohol-infused party took place with the participation of officials.

Among them was, among others, the then manager of the facility, Bartosz Bętkowski – a PiS councilor in the Skarżysko poviat, and privately, the son of Andrzej Bętkowski, the marshal of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. Apart from him, two officials subordinate to the marshal were partying at the place of execution, including Katarzyna Jedynak, an employee of this facility at that time.

The officials were having fun and a security guard was accused

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After the recording came to light, the son of the voivodeship marshal, Bartosz Bętkowski, resigned from his job. Tadeusz Sikora resigned from the position of director of the Kielce Village Museum, which covers the mausoleum.

But even before submitting his resignation in September last year, Tadeusz Sikora submitted a notification to the prosecutor’s office regarding the “unauthorized processing of personal data from video surveillance” and the transmission of this recording to an unspecified number of people and posting it on social media.

The investigation into this case is being conducted by the District Prosecutor’s Office in Skarżysko-Kamienna. The accusation was brought against a man who worked at the mausoleum as a security guard and witnessed the alcohol-fuelled party – he observed what was happening there through surveillance cameras installed in the mausoleum building.

– The man recorded the video recorded by the surveillance system and later shared it with another person. Due to the fact that there was a copy of this monitoring, we assessed it as the processing of personal data – there were images of four people – and we presented him with an accusation under Article 107 of the Personal Data Protection Act, which concerns the unauthorized processing of personal data – Tomasz tells us Rurarz, District Prosecutor in Skarżysko-Kamienna.

1. Whoever processes personal data even though their processing is not permitted or is not authorized to process them, shall be subject to a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to two years. 2. If the act specified in section 1 applies to data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data processed for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health, sexuality or sexual orientation, shall be subject to a fine or restriction of liberty. or imprisonment for up to three years.

According to the prosecutor, the man admitted to committing the crime and provided explanations.

– His doubts were raised by the fact that these four people stayed after work and that it was a friendly meeting. He did not want to intervene because he did not feel entitled to do so. He decided that he would download the surveillance footage just in case, not anticipating what would happen next. He presented such explanations, and since they were rational in our opinion, we applied to the court for conditional discontinuance, requesting a probation period of two years and a payment of one thousand zlotys to the victims’ fund, prosecutor Tomasz Rurarz told us.

A court hearing in this case is scheduled to take place in February.

They are looking for the person who distributed the recording

The proceedings regarding the distribution of the recording are still ongoing. It is also under Art. 107 of the Personal Data Protection Act and concerns unauthorized dissemination of personal data. The proceedings are conducted in the case, not against the person, which means that no one has been charged.

– After collecting all the evidence, we will decide whether and against whom to bring charges – says the head of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Skarżysko-Kamienna. This procedure may take several more weeks.

Proceedings regarding insulting the monument are ongoing

Another thread that the district prosecutor’s office is investigating in this case is insulting the mausoleum monument by organizing a social event on the mausoleum’s premises. It has been going on since October last year after a private person was notified under Article 261, paragraph 1 of the Penal Code.

– The proceedings concern the participants of this social meeting who, by organizing and participating in this meeting, insulted the monument – explains Tomasz Rurarz.

Whoever insults a monument or other public place arranged to commemorate a historical event or honor a person shall be subject to a fine or restriction of liberty.

According to the prosecutor, the same person submitted a report regarding possible failure to fulfill his duties by the voivodeship marshal. Świętokrzyskie Andrzej Bętkowski by “not notifying law enforcement authorities about possible insult to the monument.”

Both proceedings are ongoing, they are being conducted in a case, not against a person, and no one has been charged.

Resolution of the regional council

The behavior of the event participants caused outrage. The events in Michniów were condemned in a statement by the councilors of the regional council. At the request of PSL councilors, they adopted a resolution “on the situation in the Mausoleum of Martyrdom of Polish Villages in Michniów”, in which they demanded an apology from the marshal to the families of the victims of the pacification of Michniów for the libation held at the place of execution. PSL politicians also noted that, in their opinion, “no disciplinary actions were taken against the perpetrators of this shocking event.” The resolution was adopted.

Read also: Libation of the PiS marshal’s son and officials at the place of execution. The assembly adopted the resolution

Marshal of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship from PiS: my son and his friend took the blameTVN24

Audit after the libation of officials in Michniów

After a recording of the officials’ behavior appeared in the media, at the order of the marshal at the Kielce Village Museum (the Mausoleum is a branch of this institution) – an audit was carried out regarding “personal data processing” using monitoring and “organizational and personnel matters” in 2021, and also – in individual cases – in the current year.

As the authors of the audit report emphasize, on July 12, ceremonies related to the pacification of the village of Michniów, which took place in July 1943, took place in the Mausoleum. The information obtained by the auditor from the director of the Kielce Village Museum shows that “working time in the Mausoleum on this day was extended.” The cleaning work lasted until 8 p.m. After that, the employees organized a party with alcohol in a small group. The report states that the museum director knew about the meeting, but he was to be informed about its “peaceful course.”

This would be the end of the matter if it weren’t for the leak of the recording. Only after the media described them did the Świętokrzyskie authorities become interested in the events that took place after the anniversary of pacification. The audit report states that the officials participating in the meeting submitted explanations on this matter only on September 8, 2023.

“During the audit, no documents were presented confirming the manner of explaining the circumstances and the course of the informal meeting of the institution’s employees,” the auditor notes. The document also states that although the director of the Kielce Village Museum knew about the incident, he did not take any action “in terms of potential violation of employee duties.”

The report also drew attention to the ethically questionable nature of the meeting. “(…) standards of conduct, according to which all employees are responsible for creating a good image of the mausoleum outside, were not maintained,” it was written.

Jan Maćkowiak (PO): it was a desecration of the grave of the murdered, not an ordinary party at work

Jan Maćkowiak (PO): it was a desecration of the grave of the murdered, not an ordinary party at workTVN24

Przemysław Chruściel, spokesman for the Marshal of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, when asked about the actions taken after the audit, informed tvn24.pl that “recommendations were issued based on the irregularities found.”

– The director of the museum was obliged to eliminate irregularities by establishing mechanisms for supervision over documentation and technical and personal resources to ensure that the activities of the Museum in all its areas will be consistent with the law and management control standards – said Chruściel at the time.

Read also: Audit after the libation with the participation of a PiS councilor at the place of execution. “Standards were not met”

Main photo source: PAP/Adam Kumorowicz

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