Poland’s Supreme Court lifts immunity for judge

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The Disciplinary Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court has lifted a judge’s immunity despite an interim order from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) blocking its activities.

The chamber on Thursday granted a corresponding request by the public prosecutor’s office to allow the prosecution of criminal judge Marek Pietruszynski on relatively minor charges of negligence in some of his past cases.

In Poland, judges and prosecutors are automatically granted immunity, which needs to be lifted by the courts before a judge can be put on trial.

In July, the ECJ ruled that the Disciplinary Chamber did not provide the necessary guarantees of its independence and impartiality. Later, the ECJ issued an interim injunction to stop the chamber’s activities, which has been ignored by Warsaw.

As a result, the European Commission made a request to the ECJ for sanctions to be imposed on Poland.

The Disciplinary Chamber is the centrepiece of the controversial judicial reforms being introduced by the conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) government, giving it the power to dismiss any judge or prosecutor. Critics of this institution fear that it could be used to reprimand judges for insubordinate decisions.

After pressure from the EU, the president of Poland’s Supreme Court ordered that the Disciplinary Chamber should not receive any new cases. However, it is continuing to work on existing ones.

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