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Fraudulent real estate refunds in Warsaw (2nd part): the murder of a reluctant resident in Donald Tusk’s Poland

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By Olivier Bault.

Poland – In Warsaw, hearings are ongoing in front of the parliamentary committee charged with investigating fraudulent restitution of some real estate by the city. These renditions have caused many tragedies for residents and merchants expelled from buildings “returned” to specialized law firms or other crooks masquerading through incompetent, complacent or corrupt municipal services, for the rightful claimants as heirs of the former owners prior to the nationalizations of the end of the Second World War. One of these dramas is that of Jolanta Brzeska, a resident murdered in 2011 by the mafia of “reprivatisations”.

Her daughter testified on Tuesday in front of the parliamentary commission of inquiry. She spoke of the constant fear of her mother, who had decided to fight for herself and other tenants. Her burned body was found on March 7, 2011, six days after she went missing, in a wood south of Warsaw. The daughter of the victim recalled on Tuesday the curious attitude of the judges, extremely favorable to the recipient of the restored building of 9 Nabielaka Street who did not attend the hearings and suffered no consequences. She also reminded the deaf ear of the town hall to the calls for help of the residents. But even more than the fate of this property and the assassination of one of those inhabitants who had dared to resist the “System”, the most shocking is the attitude of the Polish state at the time when the current President of the European Council Donald Tusk was Prime minister and the prosecution was theoretically independent. Despite the evidence, the investigators first “thought” of suicide, before the investigation was finally closed in April 2013. Only consolation for Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO): the decision regarding the rendition of the Nabielaka Street building dated January 2006, when Lech Kaczyński (PiS) was President of Poland and had just left his place as mayor of Warsaw to a commissioner appointed by the government pending the next municipal elections. For if things have not settled since the current mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz is at the helm of the city, the problem of wild “reprivatisations”, linked to the inability of the Polish parliament to legislate on this topic for 27 years now, already existed before her.

On 19 August 2016, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro (PiS), who became public prosecutor following one of the first PiS reforms that brought the two functions together, reopened the investigation on the assassination of Jolanta Brzeska. Thus the prosecutor’s office realized that the first investigation had been literally sabotaged: hypothesis of the homicide not envisaged (!), approximate excavations of the place where the body had been found (a walker found there a bit later some pieces of clothing belonging to the victim), video surveillance recordings not requisitioned in time, etc. This is why, in parallel with the new investigation, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against prosecutors who had to supervise the 2011-2013 investigation. On Tuesday, Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki, who chairs the work of the parliamentary inquiry committee, expressed to Jolanta Brzeska’s daughter his shame for what the Polish state had done.

And yet, the European institutions and the foreign media have only begun to worry about respect for the rule of law in Poland after the PiS victory in the October 2015 elections. Spot the error!