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Poland's former deputy foreign minister arrested

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Wawrzyk was arrested in Poland on suspicion of corruption. He is not the only ex-member of the PiS government in prison. Parliament also took action against a right-wing extremist MP.

Investigators in Poland have arrested former Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk on suspicion of corruption. Wawrzyk was a member of the recently voted out national conservative PiS government. The anti-corruption authority CBA said he was being investigated for “paid favoritism in connection with the acceleration of visa procedures”.

Wawrzyk, who had been in charge of consular affairs since 2019, was suddenly fired from his position at the Foreign Ministry last August. At the same time, the anti-corruption agency searched his department. According to reports in the Polish media, the deputy foreign minister is said to have been the mastermind behind a system in which intermediaries offered Polish visas for large sums of money.

Migrants from Asia and Africa often continued to travel in the Schengen area on the basis of their Polish visa – for example to Germany. Multiple-entry visas were particularly popular. According to the Polish anti-corruption agency, nine people have already been charged in the case.

Convicted PiS politician on hunger strike

Two politicians from the PiS party were arrested about a week ago. Former Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wasik were sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of office by a Warsaw district court in December following an appeal. Kaminski went on hunger strike on the first day of his detention. A court has now ordered force-feeding. Polish President Andrzej Duda announced this at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

PiS-affiliated Duda called on Justice Minister Adam Bodnar to end the prison sentences of Mariusz Kaminski and Maciej Wasik. “He can do that at any time.” The PiS politician is protesting against his prison sentence with the hunger strike. He sees himself as a political prisoner. The conviction of Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wasik followed a year-long dispute. Both had sought protection in the presidential palace before their arrest. Duda had announced that he wanted to pardon her – for the second time.

MP's immunity lifted

Meanwhile, the Polish parliament took action against a member of parliament. After an anti-Semitic incident in December, Parliament lifted the immunity of a right-wing extremist MP. Grzegorz Braun used a fire extinguisher to put out the candles of the Jewish Hanukkah menorah and injured a member of the Jewish community. The action caused the parliamentary chamber to fill with smoke. The confidence vote that was supposed to confirm the current pro-European government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk was delayed.

The Polish public prosecutor's office began an investigation following the incident, which caused widespread outrage and horror. According to her own statements, she wants to charge Braun with, among other things, damaging property and denigrating a religious object. The way has now been cleared for such a step with the lifting of the MP's parliamentary immunity.

He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of destroying property, insulting a religious symbol and injuring a person.

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