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Poland21 September 2004

Pardon for newspaper editor sentenced to three months in prison

Andrzej Marek, the editor of the local weekly Wiesci Polickie, will not have to serve a three- month prison sentence for libelling a government official. State prosecutor Andrzej Kalwas announced on 10 September that Marek will be pardoned.


Journalist has start of prison sentence postponed

The supreme court today refused to suspend execution of journalist Andrzej Marek’s prison sentence for "lack of juridical grounds." However, the ruling did not affect the six months’ suspension ordered by the Szczecin court on 23 March. The supreme court did not specify a date for when it would consider Marek’s sentence.

A court in north-western Szczecin postponed for six months the start of a three-month prison sentence for defamation against journalist Andrzej Marek at a hearing on 23 March. Lawyer for Marek, editor-in-chief of local weekly, Wiesci Polickie, had appealed on the grounds that the journalist’s wife was undergoing a high risk pregnancy. On 4 March, Reporters Without Borders urged President Aleksander Kwasniewski to pardon the journalist. On 11 March, the ombudsman Andrzej Zoll made an official request for an appeal before the Supreme Court that will examine the case on 2 April. President Kwasniewski, who has told the press that he is inclined to begin the process of issuing a pardon, has chosen however to await this verdict.

04. 03. 2004

Reporters Without Borders appeals for presidential pardon for journalist sentenced to a prison term

Reporters Without Borders has appealed for a presidential pardon for journalist Andrzej Marek, who has been sentenced to three months in prison for defamation.

The editor of local weekly Wiesci Polickie was told on 2 March by a court in Szczecin, northwestern Poland, that he must present himself at the local municipal prison on 23 March to begin serving his sentence.

Only a presidential pardon could now save the journalist from having to serve time in jail.

Reporters Without Borders, which said it was very indignant about this sentence, called on President Aleksander Kwasniewski to pardon Marek.

"This imminent imprisonment is contrary to the recommendations of the United nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who say that prison terms should never be handed down for press offences," said Robert Ménard, secretary general of the organisation.

"No-one will understand that Poland, which is not in the habit of violating press freedom, should lock up a journalist for having written an article, even if it was considered defamatory.

At a time when all eyes are turned towards the European Union’s new member states, this case will only tarnish the image of your country and will set an extremely dangerous precedent for European journalists.

In the name of press freedom in Europe, we call on you, Mr President, to pardon Mr Marek", the organisation added.

Marek was sentenced in November 2002 then, on appeal in November 2003, to a prison sentence that was suspended on condition that he made a public apology to the official who took legal action against him.

On 6 February 2004, Judge Marcin Jedrzejewski setenced Marek to three months in prison for having refused to apologise.

In an article headlined "Promotion of scheming", that appeared in February 2001, the journalist said he suspected Piotr Misilo, at the time head of communications for the town of Police and spokesman for the local authority, of using his position to promote the advertising agency that he owned.

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