Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik were pardoned by the president and left the prisons in Radom and Przytuły Stare. After the final court verdict in their case, the convicted former PiS MPs spent 15 days in prison. Below we summarize Tuesday’s events in the country in 11 points.
1. The files and opinion regarding the pardon of PiS politicians were sent to the president
Ministry of Justice before 3 p.m. announced in a statement that court files related to the pardon proceedings against Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik had been forwarded to the president. The ministry’s announcement stated that the documents “attached a request not to exercise the right of pardon along with the position of the Prosecutor General.” It was noted that “the opinion of the prosecutor general is not binding on the president.”
2. The wives of Kamiński and Wąsik met with the president
At 5 p.m., the office announced that it was at the Presidential Palace Andrzej Duda met with the wives of convicted PiS politicians – Barbara Kamińska and Romualda Wąsik. A short recording was also published. The wives of Kamiński and Wąsik were also in the Presidential Palace on January 10, when the president made the first statement after the detention of their husbands. On January 16, the wives of former MPs were also there session of the Sejm.
3. Pardon of Kamiński and Wąsik by the president
At 5.30 p.m., Andrzej Duda, in the presence of Barbara Kamińska and Romualda Wąsik, made a statement in which he stated that the procedure for pardoning Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik “has been completed.” – I appeal for immediate further proceedings in this matter. We immediately send the documents for execution to the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General. I appeal for the immediate implementation of the president’s decision and the immediate release of both ministers from prisons, said the president.
The president pardoned Kamiński and Wąsik in 2015, after an invalid judgment of the first instance court. Duda has always maintained that this pardon is valid. Nevertheless, in January 2024, after the convicted politicians were detained and imprisoned under a final judgment, the president announced the initiation of pardon proceedings against Kamiński and Wąsik under the Code of Criminal Procedure. He said he did it at the request of their wives.
4. Bodnar informed that the National Prosecutor’s Office had received an act of mercy
Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Adam Bodnar said in an interview with TVP Info before 8 p.m. that after the president’s statement he went to the National Prosecutor’s Office “to see if this document (act of mercy – ed.) had actually been received.” – This document was received by the National Prosecutor’s Office around 6:40 p.m. This is actually today’s decision, which refers to the situation of Mr. Wąsik and Mr. Kamiński – he noted and added that he personally ensured that the documents were sent further.
– What is most important in this decision is (firstly – editor) a reference to all judgments that have been issued in this case, including the judgment of December 20, 2023. And secondly, the president will forgive the penalties and punitive measures imposed on these two men – explained the head of the ministry.
Bodnar said that the law of pardon consists in remitting a penalty, in this case two years of imprisonment and punitive measures in the form of a ban on holding public positions. – In accordance with this decision, in my opinion, absolutely, if they wanted to run for office elections local government or in elections to the European Parliament, there are no obstacles to this, he said.
5. The president made a decision on the pardon. What’s next?
However, Andrzej Duda’s words delivered at the Presidential Palace were not enough to get Kamiński and Wąsik out of prison. It was necessary to complete the procedure for transferring appropriate documents with signatures and seals, which eventually had to reach the prisons. At this stage it was not yet certain whether this would happen on Tuesday or whether his release from prison would only take place on Wednesday.
6. Wives of convicts and PiS supporters in front of prisons
In front of the prison in Radom before At 8 p.m., Mariusz Kamiński’s wife, Barbara Kamińska, appeared, holding – as she said – the presidential act of grace.
– This act of mercy signed by the president has such significance that from the moment of signing it, both my husband Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik are people who should not remain behind prison walls. They should be fired immediately. However, there is a certain procedure that we are now waiting for, she said.
Before the prison in Przytuły Stare near Ostrołęka there was Romualda Wąsik, the wife of Maciej Wąsik. – Maciek, I’m here! I am here and I have what we have been waiting for. I promised I’d get you out of here. And I pull it out. With the help of many, many, many people favorable to you, she said.
Demonstrations of PiS supporters and convicted former MPs took place in front of prisons. As TVN24 reporters reported, there were about 500 people in Radom, where Kamiński was staying, and about 100 people in Przytuły Stare, where Wąsik was.
7. The court issued a decision to release Kamiński and Wąsik from prison
Ex-boss CBA Ernest Bejda informed those gathered in front of the prison in Przytuły Stare, where Maciej Wąsik was imprisoned, that the court had issued a decision to release inmates: M. Kamiński and M. Wąsik from prison.
As Bejda said, the decision was issued by the court that decided to place them in prisons – the District Court for Warsaw-Śródmieście. The decision – he said – was sent electronically to the prison in Przytuły Stare.
– Both the prison in Radom and the prison in Przytuły Stare have already received complete and necessary documentation for both Law and Justice politicians to be released. Now the entire procedure for release from serving the sentence begins – said TVN24 reporter Artur Molęda around 8:30 p.m.
8. Kamiński and Wąsik were released from prison
Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik left the prisons in Radom and Przytuły Stare just after 9 p.m., a few minutes apart. Both were greeted by the audience with applause and shouts.
Kamiński announced that he was “ready to continue fighting.” – I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being with us. You are great. I also want to thank my wife and my son very much. I am ready to continue fighting. It may be a long road, but we will surely win. Finally, I would like to say, Mr. Tusk, Mr. Hołownia – we will see each other soon – said the former head of the CBA.
Around 9:20 p.m., people gathered in front of the prison in Radom began to disperse.
– Thank you very much to all those who spoke up for us, both on January 11 on the streets of Warsaw and in front of the prisons in Radom and Przytuły Stare. Thank you for being there every day. It was often cold in the cell when I stood at the window, but you were warm. I really admired you for standing so bravely, consistently and with such determination. It gave me a huge boost of strength, energy and faith in the future – said Wąsik.
9. Comments after President Duda’s statement
Andrzej Duda’s statement was met with many critical comments. They were commented on TVN24 by judge Piotr Gąciarek, vice-president of the capital branch of the Association of Polish Judges “Iustitia”. – I am shocked by what I heard. What everyone heard. This is a truly shocking speech by the head of state, he said. – There was no word about what the gentlemen were convicted of (Wąsik and Kamiński – ed.). What the president said, that they were convicted for fighting corruption, is not true. They were convicted of exceeding their powers, he said.
Read also: “A shocking speech by the head of state”
Professor Andrzej Zoll, former president of the Constitutional Tribunal and former ombudsman, said in “Fakty po Faktach” that “he perceived the president’s speech itself as compromising.” “The president said very few true words,” he said.
As Zoll said, “the way the president described what these two people were convicted of was clearly untrue.” – He didn’t say a word about the basis of the sentence, what they were convicted of. They were convicted of abuse of power, a very serious crime. The aim of their action was to finish off the man, recognize the current deputy prime minister as a briber and ensure that PiS could take over Samoobrona as PiS’s electorate. This is a politically motivated, very serious crime and there is a punishment for this crime – emphasized the professor.
10. Politicians’ comments
Politicians from the ruling coalition and opposition parties also commented on the president’s decision since the afternoon.
“The President – this time correctly – used the right of mercy towards criminals. That’s all,” wrote Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Former head of the Ministry of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak (PiS) wrote on the X platform that “in a law-abiding country, you get awards for fighting corruption.” “Only in Tusk’s country can you go to prison for this. Thanks to President Andrzej Duda, the illegally imprisoned Mariusz Kamiński and Maciej Wąsik are released. Marshal Hołownia is now obliged to enable our MPs to fulfill their mandates,” he said.
11. Kamiński and Wąsik are not MPs
Ph.D. Krzysztof Grajewski explained on Tuesday that the convicted PiS politicians “ceased being MPs when the verdict was issued” and “there is no legal possibility for them to regain their mandate.”
– If we are to talk about the validity of the law in Poland at all, then on December 20, 2023, these gentlemen lost their seats – said Prof. Zoll.
Main photo source: TVN24