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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » May 7, 2008
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Policemen Face Charges in Olewnik Case
May 7, 2008 By W.Ż.    
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Prosecutors have brought charges against three policemen who conducted an investigation into the notorious abduction and killing of Krzysztof Olewnik, the son of a Polish businessman. The case shocked the public and revealed what the media have slammed as a string of scandalous police failures.

To the disappointment of both the prosecutors and Olewnik's family, a district court in the northeastern city of Olsztyn April 30 refused to allow law enforcers to detain the accused policemen pending trial. The court ruled that the prosecutors had failed to gather sufficient evidence to justify the detention of the three policemen. The court refused requests to impose bail or to order the policemen to surrender their passports. The prosecutors said they would appeal the decision.

Ireneusz Wilk, a lawyer for the Olewnik family, said the court's decision does not mean that the suspects are not guilty. He added that it "sends a disquieting signal" to the Olewnik family. "We know that arrest is a very restrictive preventive measure, but it is sometimes indispensable to ensure the proper course of proceedings," Wilk said.

On April 29, Olsztyn prosecutors charged the policemen, identified only as Remigiusz M., Henryk S. and Maciej L.-their last names were withheld under Polish law-with neglecting their duties, resulting in Olewnik's death. The prosecutors also accused the three officers of obstructing the investigation into the kidnapping. The policemen denied the charges. Prosecutors asked the court to detain the suspects pending trial to prevent obstruction of justice.

An investigation into the way police handled the Olewnik case began in June last year at the request of Włodzimierz Olewnik, the victim's father. Four prosecutors and eight policemen are conducting the probe.

In late March, a district court in Płock, northwest of Warsaw, sentenced Sławomir Kościuk and Robert Pazik to life imprisonment for abducting and killing Olewnik. Eight accomplices received prison terms ranging from one year to 15 years. One individual was acquitted. Two of Olewnik's kidnappers and murderers committed suicide. Wojciech F., who was to be charged with masterminding the crime, was found hanging in his cell in June last year. And Kościuk was found hanging in early April this year, soon after the Płock court sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Olewnik, 25, was the son of a prominent businessman from Drobin near Płock. He was abducted in October 2001 and his family received a ransom demand. The kidnappers contacted the family many times and in July 2003 received a ransom of 300,000 euros. But they did not release their prisoner.

Kościuk and Pazik killed Olewnik one month after the ransom had been delivered. The body of the victim, who was tortured before death, was found in a forest five years after the abduction and three years after the killing.

The Olewnik case has a political aspect to it due to the alleged involvement of local leftist politicians. The Law and Justice (PiS) parliamentary group wants Zbigniew Ćwiąkalski, the justice minister, to report on how the criminal justice system handled the case at a parliamentary sitting May 7-9. A motion to this effect was submitted April 30 to parliamentary Speaker Bronisław Komorowski by Przemysław Gosiewski, head of the PiS parliamentary group.
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