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The Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeal of Ziobro, who wanted the activist presenting banners with dead fetuses to be acquitted

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The Supreme Court dismissed the cassation filed by Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro, who applied for the acquittal of an activist displaying anti-abortion banners with the remains of human fetuses in a public place. The court’s decision means that the man was finally found guilty of a misdemeanor.

– We must ask ourselves whether a billboard in a public place, presenting a bloodied fetus, human remains, is within the rules of morality accepted in our society? Is it morally acceptable to publicly display a human corpse or human remains? – Judge Waldemar Płóciennik asked in the justification of Thursday’s ruling of the Supreme Court.

He added that “if we look around our own communities and see how we relate to human remains, we will certainly be able to construct a moral norm that will show that they deserve respect.”

– After all, such respect is sought by the state, which places such billboards in public places, for respect for the unborn, and at the same time they miss this respect by such a public presentation – judge Płóciennik justified.

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Banners on the Wrocław Market Square

The case concerned an anti-abortion activist in Wrocław and two protests that took place in the city at the end of 2020. In this case, the man was accused of violating the provision of the Code of Petty Offenses stating that “whoever places an obscene advertisement, inscription or drawing in a public place or uses obscene words shall be subject to restriction of liberty, a fine of up to PLN 1,500, or a reprimand.

The Wrocław district court, recognizing the guilt, imposed a fine of 1.5 thousand on the man. PLN fine. This verdict was partially changed by the District Court in Wrocław, which refrained from imposing a penalty on the man and exempted him from court costs, but left formal recognition of his guilt.

The Prosecutor General, who applied for the activist’s acquittal, filed a cassation appeal against the final judgment of the SO. He argued that the courts had misinterpreted the adjective “indecent” from the wording of the provision. Prosecutor Józef Gemra admitted to the Supreme Court that “the phenomenon causes controversy and emotions in social perception, but the question arises whether the state should react in the form of penal repression in such cases.”

The defense also indicated that the presented photos did not concern indecent issues in the sense of, for example, sexual, but a socially important topic, i.e. the effects of abortion practices.

Posters with dead fetuses appeared in the public space of the Wrocław Market SquareIrena Olszewska, shared on the National Women’s Strike group, Grupa Główna

Controversy over “indecent content”

However, as the Supreme Court pointed out on Thursday, the term “obscene content” since the interwar period includes not only sexual and pornographic content, but all content that violates public decency. Therefore – as he decided – the rulings of the Wrocław courts in this case fall within the limits of the law and acceptable assessments.

Wawrzyniec Knoblauch, the defendant’s defender, told journalists after the Supreme Court’s ruling that he was surprised by it. – We already have five positive verdicts in analogous cases where an acquittal was made and one where – due to deficiencies in the justification – the case returned for re-examination in the district court. Thursday’s ruling is an isolated view of one Supreme Court bench, (…) a breach in an established line – he assessed.

Main photo source: Irena Olszewska, shared on the National Women’s Strike group, Grupa Główna

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