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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » February 18, 2009
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Justice Minister in Trouble
February 18, 2009   
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Andrzej Czuma, the newly appointed minister of justice, came under heavy criticism in the first days of February following media reports alleging he owed money to banks and individuals in the United States. According to media reports, Czuma accumulated debts over the two decades he spent in the United States 1986-2006.

At a special press conference Feb. 11, Czuma said that during his years in America he had indeed been in debt, but had paid it all off. He agreed to make public the conclusion of a report by an American company which had examined Czuma's financial situation when he was selling his house in 2005 (a large part of the money he obtained went to pay off debt). Czuma added it would be illegal to reveal all data from the audit, as it also concerned the buyers and third persons.

Once a well-known activist in the democratic, anti-communist movements of the 1970s and 1980s, Czuma was welcomed as justice minister even by the opposition. Now, however, the opposition says Czuma should be suspended as justice minister until the controversy is clarified. Saying he viewed Czuma's "heroic past with great respect," Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, added he would like to hear "explanations concerning his [Czuma's] financial situation, just like any citizen would."

Meanwhile, public confidence in Czuma has taken a plunge. In an opinion poll conducted by the GfK Polonia agency for Rzeczpospolita newspaper, 71 percent said the prime minister should dismiss Czuma, 21 percent were against such a move and the rest were undecided.
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