Leader of the main opposition PiS Jaroslaw Kaczynski (L) campaigning for the European parliamentary elections is defying attempts to make his testify before a parliamentary investigative committee before the day of the election. EPA-EFE/Albert Zawada


PiS leader threatened with arrest over corruption committee row


Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland’s main opposition party, the Conservative PiS, was threatened with being forcibly brought by the police to testify in front of a parliamentary committee investigating corruption.

The threat came after Kaczyński failed to appear on June 5 at the committee looking into alleged irregularities in the issuing of labour visas.

The PiS chief, who has already testified once, was summoned again by committee chair Michał Szczerba, an MP who is standing in the European Parliament elections on June 6-9 for Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO) party.

Kaczyński said he could not attend abroad for a June 4 farmers protest in Brussels against the EU Green Deal, adding that he would be available to testify again once the EP elections had concluded.

Szczerba told reporters on June 4 that this response was “totally unacceptable”.

“Mr Kaczyński must answer a summons from an investigative committee like everyone else and his party duties are no excuse,” he said.

“If he does not attend on June 5 the committee has the power to fine him and I will summon him again for June 7.”

Szczerba added that “the committee has the right to instruct law enforcement to detain Mr Kaczynski and escort him to the hearing” if he refuses to show up.

Kaczynski did not take kindly to the threat, informing reporters that his arrest would be legally questionable.

“I am willing to testify but will not be threatened with police detaining me,” he said.

“That would be illegal because I have parliamentary immunity, which has not been removed.

The KO representative has since appeared to have backed off on wanting to have the PiS leader arrested, saying on June 5 that his committee would vote to have Kaczynski fined rather than detained.

The investigative committee is looking into allegations that, during the last PiS government, hundreds of thousands of worker visas were issued in an irregular fashion.

That allegedly led to Polish labour and Schengen visas being made available to migrants wishing to travel further into the EU, rather than study or work in Poland itself.

One PiS government official grilled by the committee on the issue was former foreign minister Zbigniew Rau. He described the accusations as a “cascade of fake news, defamation and lies”.

He reminded committee members that the prosecutors acting during the lifetime of the PiS government had already identified irregularities in the processing of 607 visas, of which 268 were actually issued. Seven people had been charged for attempting to corrupt officials.

Rau also argued that the deputy foreign minister, Piotr Wawrzyk, was dismissed over a lack of adequate supervision and pointed out he has been charged.

“The Polish state and law enforcement acted in an exemplary manner,” Rau said.

He also attacked the way the committee has been run, saying: “The country has been treated to blatant self-promotion by its members in advance of the European parliamentary election in which some of its members are standing.

“In this political fervour you are writing some of the darkest pages in the history of Polish parliamentarism,” he concluded.

A record 141 Polish MPs are contesting the European elections this year, with turnout, expected to be around the 40 per cent mark.

According to the latest opinion polls, the Civic Coalition is battling the PiS for first place, with both averaging around 30 per cent in the polls.

Another party in the current ruling coalition, Third Way Alliance, is polling just over 10 per cent followed by the right-wing Confederation party, also at around 10 per cent. The governing coalition’s third party, the Left, is polling at about 7 per cent.