Zbigniew Ziobro defended Marika, who was convicted of robbery of a hooligan nature. He said that she was “robbed of her freedom” and “judicial violence was used against her.” He criticized the regulations that he himself pushed in 2006 under the slogan “zero tolerance”. At the same time, the minister and the prosecutor general remain silent about the hateful motive behind the crime, which drew the court’s attention. Report by Marta Gordziewicz from “Black and white”.
The prosecutor’s office accused Michał O. and Marika in 2021 of attempted robbery of a hooligan nature, the court sentenced them to three years in prison. It was about a situation from August 2020, when they tried to snatch a rainbow bag from a girl at a demonstration of people LGBT in Poznan. The case was not high-profile, but after the two nationalists spent a year in prison, the prosecutor general defended them. Zbigniew Ziobro.
The court and the prosecutor general may, in accordance with the regulations, order a break in serving the sentence when the pardon procedure is ongoing. Zbigniew Ziobro used this provision and at the same time supported it prepared by Ordo Iuris application to the president to pardon Marika. He also announced that he would submit an extraordinary complaint to the Supreme Court in the case of both convicts.
Recognizing that particularly important reasons support pardon, especially when justified by the short period of the remaining sentence, the court issuing the opinion and the Prosecutor General may suspend the execution of the sentence or order a break in its execution until the completion of the pardon proceedings.
“Minister Ziobro and his deputy Warchoł are simply lying”
On July 15, at a conference – with the image of a smiling Marika behind his back – Ziobro painted a picture of almost a prosecutor-court conspiracy, the victim of which was a young woman with “patriotic” views. Ziobro said that she was “robbed of her freedom” and “judicial violence was used against her.”
He did not want to tell the conference what the exact course of the event for which Marika and Michał O were convicted was. He referred journalists to court files, which in his opinion were publicly available, but he did not mention that these files had already been in the general prosecutor’s office for several days and the court he didn’t have them, so he couldn’t show them to journalists.
Public opinion was dependent only on the narrative of Ordo Iuris and Zbigniew Ziobro. Only the judgment, the operative part of which was first obtained by “Gazeta Wyborcza” journalist Piotr Żytnicki after a few days, and then the entire statement with reasons was made available by the aforementioned Ordo Iuris organization, shed new light on the case. – Reading this sentence, this description of the act, confirmed that Minister Ziobro and his deputy Warchoł are simply lying – said Żytnicki.
“The defendants started shouting at the injured party to give them the bag back, using vulgar words, they started pulling the victim’s bag and tried to snatch it from the victim, which resulted in bodily injuries to the injured party in the form of a sprain of the interphalangeal joint and bruises on her finger,” reads a fragment of the judgment.
“The accused claimed that she wanted to take the bag because it symbolized the LGBT+ community, which the accused perceived negatively at the time and wanted to fight against,” we read.
Małecki: ideological motivation considered to be particularly condemnable
Marika did not appeal against this verdict, but Michał O. did. Both Michał O. and Marika were sentenced to the same judgment. – The court of second instance reviews the judgment of the court of first instance and states that both the legal qualification and the imposed penalty are fair, adequate, lawful and there are no grounds to interfere with this judgment – said Żytnicki.
Two years after the verdict and three months before elections, however, Zbigniew Ziobro intervened. He criticized the court and the prosecutor’s office subordinated to him for the legal classification adopted in the case. It’s about a hooligan attempt to commit a robbery. In this case, the prosecutor general directly accuses the prosecutor’s office and the court of being guided not by the law, but by their worldview.
– In this case, this handbag (in rainbow colors – editor) is crucial not because of its value, but because the perpetrators chose the person because of the color of this handbag. In a sense, one could say that the court did a very good job of taking into account the ideological background of the entire attack. The Penal Code explicitly states that the motivation of perpetrators is taken into account when assessing the degree of social harmfulness of an act. And ideological, hateful motivation is something that is considered in criminal law as a motivation that deserves special condemnation, said Mikołaj Małecki, Ph.D., a criminalist from the Jagiellonian University.
Verdict: Marika is driven by hatred towards other people
In the judgment, the court wrote: “The accused Marika is a demoralized person. She is motivated by hatred towards other people. She adopts a social attitude in which she categorizes people according to sexual orientation, race, nationality. She clearly feels her superiority over people belonging to minorities and attacks them. Assumptions “These are socially dangerous and border on totalitarian ideologies, including fascism and Nazism.”
Additionally – as the Poznań court spokesman said – the behavior of Marika and Michał O. in the courtroom “was reprehensible”, and Marika “manifested a dismissive attitude, as if she was even happy to sit on the defendant’s bench.”
However, Zbigniew Ziobro remained silent at the conference about Marika’s hateful motivation. He wrote on Twitter that “the court threw a young girl in prison for three years because she protested against the promotion of leftist ideology and homosexuality.”
– Minister Ziobro publicly justifies such a hateful attack. This is simply a situation in which we can be said to be ruled by dangerous people – commented Dr. Małecki.
Fascist symbols, hateful manifesto
Przemysław Witkowski, a journalist, lecturer and specialist in the field of radical movements and groups, analyzed the symbols used by Marika and Michał O. Their photos often show a Celtic cross. – This is a global symbol of white supremacy, it is considered a legal sign of racism – he explained.
Michał O. posed in a photograph wearing a Wehrmacht officer’s cap and with the flag of the Third Reich behind his back. – There are probably no major doubts here – said Witkowski. Michał O. published his manifesto online, in which he expressed contempt for “miscegenates without ethnic identity” or “perverted and irreversibly operated freaks marching under rainbow flags.”
It was such an image – passed over in silence by Ziobro – that gave the court a broader look at the motive behind the attack on the girl with the rainbow bag.
Ziobro pushed for regulations under the slogan “zero tolerance”. Now he criticizes them
– Mr. Zbigniew Ziobro mentioned that the judgment should be issued within the limits of the law. These limits of the law were set by the creator of the regulations, including Mr. Zbigniew Ziobro, who in 2006 said that the limits of robbery, which is a hooligan offense, are a mandatory minimum of three years of imprisonment – pointed out Małecki.
It was Zbigniew Ziobro who in 2006, also as Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General, pushed for regulations tightening penalties for hooligans, i.e. those who show demonstrative disregard for the law. He pushed successfully. The regulations are in force and have been applied – which Ziobro also remains silent – against Marika and Michał O.
The provisions for attempted robbery, i.e. the act charged against Marika and Michał O., provide for a penalty of two to twelve years in prison. But if this act was considered hooligan – and this was the case with Marika and Michał O. – then, according to the provision advocated by Zbigniew Ziobro and which is in force, the minimum threat of punishment increases by half. In this case, the lowest possible penalty is three months in prison.
– And it’s not a choice. This is Zbigniew Ziobro’s penal code. It gives the court no choice. So in such a situation, assuming an attempted robbery as part of a hooligan act, the court had to impose a minimum sentence of three years in prison – emphasized Małecki.
In 2006, Zbigniew Ziobro thundered from the parliamentary rostrum that prison would prevent hooligans from escalating violence. – To discourage these hooligans from committing crimes at the moment when they give up on minor offenses, so that the most serious crimes are not committed – he explained then.
– That’s the thought, that’s the idea. This is the idea behind the theory that was introduced so successfully in New York. Zero tolerance, he said.
This was the position of Zbigniew Ziobro and his supporters on the issue of hooliganism. And today, the same Zbigniew Ziobro and his political support show tolerance for nationalists convicted of hooligan attacks.
“You can say that this is how Zbigniew Ziobro forms his militias”
Anna Siewierska-Chmaj, a political scientist from the University of Rzeszów, points out that Zbigniew Ziobro’s campaign in the Marika case is intended to have a specific effect in the election campaign.
– In the majesty of the law, it normalizes or legitimizes a movement or an ideology that is neo-fascist, and this must be said directly. (…) It may have brown circles on its side. These are very violent environments, so we can say that this is how Zbigniew Ziobro forms his militias, she said.
Mikołaj Małecki added that Zbigniew Ziobro uses his own proven methods of arousing negative emotions towards groups that are the subject of harassment from Ziobro himself and his political environment.
– It is no longer Marika’s issue at this point, it is the issue of Minister Ziobro and the entire team in power, which has turned hatred and discrimination against people into a weapon in the political fight. He is trying to put non-heteronormative people on the same level as people who are hostile to any otherness, he said.
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Main photo source: PAP/Marcin Obara