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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » February 18, 2009
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Rokita in Scuffle on Airplane
February 18, 2009   
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Jan Rokita, for many years a leading light of Polish politics, was led off a German airplane in handcuffs after a scuffle with the crew aboard a scheduled flight from Munich to Cracow. Rokita was traveling with his wife Nelli, a deputy from the Law and Justice (PiS) party, who also joined in the argument. Rokita was escorted out of the aircraft in handcuffs and was released only after the Polish consul intervened.

Rokita, 49, now a political commentator for a Polish newspaper, used to head the office of the Council of Ministers in the early 1990s and in 2005 he was the Civic Platform's (PO) nominee for prime minister in the parliamentary elections the party lost in the autumn of that year. On board the Lufthansa aircraft, Rokita first engaged in an angry exchange with a flight attendant after which, according to the Germans, he became "a threat to the safety of the flight" and, ignoring the captain's request, refused to leave the plane.

Rokita accused the crew of the Lufthansa flight and German police of brutality and "anti-Polish bias." Hans Peter Kammerer, the spokesman for the Munich police, says that during Rokita's scuffle with the plane crew, there was "an attempt at bodily harm and breach of the law on air traffic safety." The Rokitas spent the night at a police station at the airport. The German prosecutor's office demanded bail of several thousand euros. After the Polish consulate intervened, it was decided that for a citizen of the EU, bail was not necessary and Rokita was released pending trial.

The prosecutor's office in Munich has launched an investigation, while the Rokitas have said they will sue Lufthansa. The German airline has in the meantime put Rokita and his wife on its blacklist of individuals banned from Lufthansa planes and from using its terminals.
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