Former Polish interior minister Mariusz Kaminski and his deputy Maciej Wonsik have been arrested and are facing prison over accusations of abuse of power. The detention of the two Law and Justice party (PiS) MPs has sparked outrage among the Polish opposition, which has described them as “political prisoners.”
The two politicians were arrested by police on Tuesday while they were staying at the presidential palace of Polish President Andrzej Duda. The two MPs were waiting to meet with Duda, who had not yet returned to the palace when police entered the building.
The arrest stems from a case that was brought against Kaminski and Wonsik back in 2015, when a court sentenced them to three-and-a-half years in prison for abuse of power. However, before the court’s verdict took legal effect, President Duda pardoned them and the sentence was annulled.
Poland’s new government, led by pro-EU politician Donald Tusk, has claimed that Duda did not have the right to grant the two MPs amnesty. After winning the general election and ousting the PiS party last month, the new government reopened the case against the former minister and his deputy. The two officials ended up being handed two-year prison sentences.
Kaminski’s arrest has sparked outrage among PiS supporters, with the leader of the party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, describing the two MPs as Poland’s “first political prisoners since 1989.” He vowed “consequences” for those behind the move.
President Duda has also condemned the actions of the police and Tusk’s government, insisting that the two MPs had been pardoned by his decree and that their new sentences violated constitutional norms.
During a PiS press conference on Wednesday, associates of Kaminski also read out a statement from the former interior minister, who announced that he had begun a hunger strike and slammed his conviction as “political revenge” for the work he had done in fighting corruption.
The PiS party is set to hold a mass demonstration in Warsaw on Thursday, which has been dubbed by party leader Kaczynski as ‘The Protest of Free Poles’ against Donald Tusk’s new pro-EU government. During the march, the party is also expected to demand the immediate release of Kaminski and Wonsik.
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