The District Court in Warsaw has found writer Jakub 真lczyk not guilty of insulting President Andrzej Duda. According to the judge, calling the president a "moron" in a post on Facebook was meant to be "sharp criticism of a citizen concerned about the fate of his country".
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The District Court in Warsaw dismissed the case against best-selling writer Jakub Żulczyk who was accused of insulting the head of state in a post on Facebook.

- The defendant did not commit a crime by his actions and thus no criminal liability can be attributed to him. An act of negligible social harm is not a crime. To be recognized as a crime, ang action must first be proven to have violated social values to a greater extent than mere negligence - justified judge Tomasz Grochowicz.

In his decision, the judge also considered Żulczyk's professional qualifications, the fact that he is a writer, and holds a degree in North American studies. The decision is not legally binding.

"Joe Biden is the 46th US president. Andrzej Duda is a moron"

The case dates back to November 7, 2020. On that day, instead of congratulating Joe Biden on his victory in the U.S. presidential election, Polish president Andrzej Duda tweeted: "Congratulations to @JoeBiden for a successful presidential campaign. As we await the nomination by the Electoral College, Poland is determined to upkeep high-level and high-quality PL-US strategic partnership for an even stronger alliance".

Mr Żulczyk commented on the president's Tweet on his Facebook profile. He wrote: "Andrzej Duda, the President of Poland, wrote on Twitter that he is waiting for the nomination of Joe Biden, President-elect of the United States, by the Electoral College. I hold a master’s degree in North American studies from the Jagiellonian University. Admittedly, today, U.S. politics and the affairs of this country are just a hobby of mine, but I have never heard of such a thing as "nomination by the Electoral College" in the American electoral process. Biden won the election. He received 290 electoral votes. Eventually, after a recount in Georgia, he will probably get 306. To win the race, he needed 270. The US President-elect is "announced" by news agencies, there is no federal, central institution, or office in charge of this announcement. Everything that follows from this day on - counting the rest of the votes, voting of the electoral college- is merely a formal procedure. Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States. Andrzej Duda is a moron" - the author put it bluntly.

The Prosecutor's Office for the Warsaw Midtown North District filed charges against the writer, accusing him of insulting the head of state under Article 135 of the Polish Penal Code.

Court: the comment was sharp criticism of a citizen concerned about the fate of his country

Judge Tomasz Grochowicz dismissed the case.

Justifying his decision, he said: - A critical, but at the same time substantive assessment of President Andrzej Duda's statement on the US presidential election was concluded with an insulting term. However, this single element cannot be assessed in isolation from the entire text written by the defendant (...). The defendant’s activity - as he himself stated - was dictated, in his opinion, by the unreasonable, irresponsible behavior of the President. It was intended as sharp criticism of a citizen concerned about the fate of his country. As the defendant stated, the word was also - above all - a form of criticism.

In considering the case, the judge also took note of Mr Żulczyk's profession.

- He is a writer, a publicist with considerable achievements, a North American studies scholar by education, and therefore a person with substantial knowledge of social and political relations in the United States. Thus, the activity in the form of an entry on social media was a consequence of his skills and the right of every citizen to criticize the authorities and their representatives - said judge Grochowicz.

- In democratic systems, public figures, especially those at the very top, enjoy a lower degree of reverence. Holding a public office comes with a greater risk of public criticism. This principle of diminished protection exists in many European countries- he added.

The judge also referred to the European Convention on Human Rights, according to which "freedom of expression is one of the essential foundations of a democratic society - one of the conditions for its development". This right "applies not only to information or opinions that are considered favorable, not regarded as offensive or indifferent but also to speech that offends, shocks, or disturbs. - Such are the requirements of pluralism, tolerance, and open-mindedness"- judge Grochowicz said.

These arguments, the judge concluded, "should lead to the conviction that an article on insulting the President should not exclude the right to formulate critical opinions in public debate - even very harsh ones, as long as they serve the public debate".

The prosecution wants a written justification

- The prosecution does not share the court's decision. We submitted a motion to find the defendant guilty. We will submit a motion for a written justification of the court’s verdict - said the public prosecutor Marcin Przestrzelski from the District Public Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw. He added that the prosecution will decide whether to appeal against the court’s decision only after receiving a written justification.

Deputy Minister of Justice: the verdict gives grounds to call every judge in Poland a moron

Shortly after the decision was announced to the public, Sebastian Kaleta, the Deputy Minister of Justice, criticized the court’s decision in a post on Twitter. - Today's ruling by judge Tomasz Grochowicz in the case of Jakub Żulczyk gives grounds to call every judge in Poland a moron with impunity. It spoils the public debate and legitimizes hatred. Unfortunately, this will also affect the judges- he wrote.


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