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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » September 2, 2009
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Two Found Guilty in Land Scandal Case
September 2, 2009   
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Two men involved in a bribery scandal that led to the breakup of the former coalition government of Law and Justice (PiS), Samoobrona and the League of Polish Families (LPR) were found guilty of corruption by a Warsaw district court Aug. 19.

One of the men, Piotr Ryba was sentenced to a prison term of two-and-a-half years while the other, identified as Andrzej K., got away with a fine.

In the wake of the scandal in 2007, Andrzej Lepper, leader of the populist Samoobrona party who was suspected of involvement in the case, lost his job as deputy prime minister and agriculture minister, in a development that was followed by the breakup of the ruling coalition and an early parliamentary election that resulted in the emergence of a new governing coalition of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People's Party (PSL).

Ryba, a former public television reporter connected with Samoobrona, and Andrzej K., a businessman recommended by PiS for the post of vice-president of the Dialog telecom company, were tried on charges of influence peddling and corruption. They were accused of offering to bring about a change in the official designation of an attractive 40-hectare plot in the northeastern Mazuria Lake District from agricultural land to land suitable for development, in exchange for a bribe of zl.2.7 million.

The two men were arrested after the bribe offer turned out to be a sting operation by the Central Anti-Corruption Office (CBA). Andrzej K. pleaded guilty and offered detailed accounts.

The defense attorneys questioned the legality of the CBA operation, but the court rejected their arguments, saying that witnesses' accounts played the most important role in the case while evidence collected by the CBA was of secondary importance.

The defense attorneys for the two men said they would appeal.
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