Strona główna Litygacja Izabela Lewandowska-Malec

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Wtorek, 11 Sierpień 2009 09:07
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The applicant is an assistant professor at the Law Faculty of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. According to the applicant, from 2003 she was anonymously informed about financial and other irregularities in the mayor’s work. She and another local councillor requested the prosecution service to investigate those irregularities, but all investigations were discontinued. In the applicant’s view the investigations were not thorough and the decisions to discontinue them had been based on favourable expert opinions or evidence given by the commune’s civil servants. On 25 June 2005 the mayor J.B. placed an advertisement in the Rzeczpospolita newspaper addressed to the President of the Republic of Poland. The mayor argued that the adjudicating commissions of the regional audit chambers (regionalne izby obrachunkowe) were unconstitutional and that the procedures before them violated citizens’ rights. On 9 July 2004 the Polish Press Agency published the article “The mayor’s settling scores with the Regional Audit Chamber”. The article stated that in 2003 the Kraków Regional Audit Chamber had reviewed the finances of the mayor’s commune and had established a significant number of irregularities. That article prompted a number of replies. On 16 July 2004 the Polish Press Agency posted on its website the applicant’s letter. In August 2004 the mayor lodged with the Wieliczka District Court a private bill of indictment against the applicant, charging her with defamation committed through the mass media under Articles 212 § 2 of the Criminal Code. The mayor relied on the passage from the applicant’s letter which stated that “these proceedings conducted by the prosecution service have been artificially prolonged, which prompts me to say that the mayor has put illicit pressure on that authority”. On 12 September 2006 the Wieliczka District Court found the applicant guilty of defamation committed through the mass media. It held that in her letter she had imputed to the mayor of the Świątniki Górne commune behaviour which could debase him in public opinion and undermine the public confidence necessary for the discharge of his duties. The court imposed a fine of 7,500 Polish zlotys (PLN; approx. EUR 2,000) on the applicant and ordered her to publish its judgment.The applicant filed an appeal against the first-instance judgment on 19 October 2006. Thr Regional Court upheld the first-instance judgment, finding the applicant’s appeal manifestly ill-founded. It ordered the applicant to reimburse PLN 420 to the private prosecutor for his costs.

The Regional Court found that the applicant had failed to prove the truthfulness of her statement. It further held that a defamatory statement which deliberately employed untrue information was not protected under Article 10 of the Convention. As regards the sentence, the Regional Court observed that a fine was the most lenient penalty for the offence of defamation and that its amount had been proportionate to the applicant’s degree of guilt and the social danger of her act.

The applicants unsuccessfully requested the Prosecutor General and the Ombudsman to file a cassation appeal in her case. The applicant further requested the Kraków Court of Appeal to reopen the proceedings. She argued that after the first-instance judgment had been given R.M. had informed her about pressure exerted by the mayor on the prosecutors.

The Court of Appeal heard R.M. On 29 May 2008 the Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s request to reopen the proceedings. It held that R.M.’s evidence had not substantiated the applicant’s allegations against the mayor.

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