Poland's Supreme Court chief must retire, says aide to president

Leroy Wright
July 6, 2018

Gersdorf is at the centre of a mounting conflict between Warsaw's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party and the European Union, which accuses Poland of trying to gain political control of the judiciary and of subverting basic democratic standards. CNN quoted her as saying, "My presence here is not about politics, I am here to protect the rule of law". Thousands of supporters had greeted her when she arrived on Wednesday. Critics say the government is seeking control over Poland's courts by forcing judges to retire.

"Their great achievement - a sovereign, democratic Poland - is at stake today", Weber said.

Chief Justice Prof Malgorzata Gersdorf was told she had to step down on Tuesday, in line with new legislation. The authorities have introduced laws which allow over half of all judges of the Supreme Court to be removed and exchanged and which allow for removal of the President of the Supreme Court before her term of office expires. Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has used another law to change nearly 20% ordinary court presidents or their deputies.

She is now married to Bohdan Zdziennicki, a retired Polish Constitutional Court judge.

"We are moving towards a dictatorship", said Joanna Tworog, a 65-year-old webmaster in the crowd supporting Gersdorf earlier on Wednesday.

Morawiecki was on Tuesday evening scheduled to meet the head of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, in Strasbourg over dinner, according to the IAR news agency. "It may have some very far-reaching consequences and implications for further political development in Poland".

Campaigners at the International Bar Association (IBA) highlighted recent reports of intimidation and hate campaigns against judges led by the ruling Law and Justice party.

The judge, an outspoken critic of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, has insisted that under Poland's constitution she should remain in her post until 2020.

"There are no fireworks in her life story", a Warsaw solicitor who also spoke anonymously told Newsweek Polska, adding that "she wasn't active socially or in local government, she avoided public activity".

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Gamble and Lyakh attempted to save her but they also fell and got swept into the currents, according to the Vancouver Sun . Witnesses told Search and Rescue officials that Gamble and Lyakh followed Scraper into the pools to try and help her.

Demonstrators rallying in support of the defiant judges were expected to take to the streets around the Supreme Court in Warsaw later on Tuesday as well as on Wednesday.

The legislation would "undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges", it said in a statement.

"Such actions require unanimous support of other European Union bloc states", Soraya reported.

In an interview just days ago, the leader of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, expressed deep concern about her country's direction.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, left, is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on March 8.

Warsaw also faces the threat of losing its voting rights in the bloc under a procedure launched late previous year in response to the judiciary reforms. However, that would require a unanimous vote to be passed and Hungary's right-wing government has already said it would reject the proposal.

"The European Union does not need Nord Stream 2, which increases the risk of Central Europe being destabilized and which gives Russian Federation very strong tools of influence, not only over the European economy, but also on European policy", Morawiecki said.

Last week, an assembly of Supreme Court justices responded to the pending purge by issuing a series of resolutions highlighting Poland's constitutional guarantee of judicial independence.

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