Follow the big issues that shape Polish politics and society by signing up to our weekly newsletter "News from Poland: Democracy at Stake". It allows you to stay up to speed on developments concerning the ongoing assault on democratic institutions, rule of law, and human rights in Poland.
The three women’s rights activists have been accused by the prosecution of endangering public health.
Charged with "publicly praising criminal behavior" and organizing protests
Back in February, we wrote that prosecutorial authorities acting on the recommendation of National Prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski opened an investigation into whether the leaders of the Women’s Strike Movement committed a crime by causing an epidemic threat. We also mentioned that this was only one of three criminal charges brought against Marta Lempart.
29.01 Warszawa, rondo Dmowskiego. Trzeci dzień protestów po opublikowaniu wyroku TK. Na zdj Marta Lempart Fot. Dawid Żuchowicz / Agencja Gazeta
The two remaining charges concern:
· Insulting police officers ("By using words commonly regarded as insults, on November 28, 2020, in Warsaw she insulted police officers during and in relation to the performance of their official duties, committing an illegal act under Art. 226 § 1 of the Criminal Code")
· Publicly praising criminal behavior ("On October 26, 2020, during an interview with journalist Beata Lubecka aired on Radio Zet, she praised the criminal behavior in the form of destroying the facades of church buildings and maliciously obstructing the public performance of a religious ceremony, committing an illegal act under Article 255 § 3 of the Criminal Code").
The prosecution’s spokesperson confirms the charges
Last Friday (July 9), the spokeswoman for the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw, Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, has been quoted by the Onet news portal as confirming the announced charges.
"The charges include endangering the health and lives of many people and causing an epidemiological threat in the form of exposing them to the possibility of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and spreading the COVID-19 infectious disease by organizing and leading marches in Warsaw in October, November, and December 2020" - the spokeswoman said.
Additionally, Marta Lempart was also charged with insulting police officers and "publicly praising criminal behavior involving the destruction of church building facades and maliciously obstructing the public performance of a religious ceremony".
Marta Lempart: "They are using us to distract the public"
All three defendants have agreed to refer to them by their full names. So far, Agnieszka Czerederecka has been the only one to personally receive the indictment. She received it while being at work. The other two defendants we spoke to were traveling.
Marta Lempart: - Different allegations are leveled against us all the time. There are 70 different cases against me alone. Of course, this is all complete nonsense. No more than a week ago, the Supreme Court ruled that our demonstrations were perfectly legal. This case is only important insofar, as the prosecutor's office passed it to the pro-government media just now. Apparently, something important is going on, and the media must be preoccupied with our indictment, which, by the way, took a strangely long time to prepare, as the prosecutor kept being replaced. It only confirms that both the prosecution and the pro-government media cycle are managed single-handedly. The government using us to distract the public. The question is, what issue is this indictment supposed to cover?
Klementyna Suchanow: "We can rest assured; the protests were legal"
Asked about the indictment, Klementyna Suchanow said that she learned about it from the media – "I have not received any mail regarding this matter, no one took care of it"- she says.
- This is obviously one of many cases that are pending against us. It is worth pointing out that the ultraconservative organization Ordo Iuris, together with the Fisei Defensor foundation, with which the Law and Justice MP Dariusz Masecki is affiliated, reported the case to the prosecution. The verdict, which was recently announced by the Supreme Court, proves that we can rest assured because the protests were legal. This is just another act in a comedy directed by PiS. Rather, the question is what is it supposed to cover? What is PiS up to, or what is it afraid of?
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.
We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs.
The access to information should be equal for all.
Wybierz prenumeratę, by czytać to, co Cię ciekawi
Wyborcza.pl to zawsze sprawdzone informacje, szczere wywiady, zaskakujące reportaże i porady ekspertów w sprawach, którymi żyjemy na co dzień. Do tego magazyny o książkach, historii i teksty z mediów europejskich. Zrezygnować możesz w każdej chwili.