The President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, announced on Tuesday January 23 that he had granted pardon to two former nationalist deputies, including a former Minister of the Interior, sentenced to two years in prison. “The decision on the right of pardon has been made. They are pardoned,” announced the Head of State in a televised statement, asking for their “immediate release.” Mr. Duda took this decision despite the negative opinion expressed by the general prosecutor’s office.

In December 2023, a Polish court sentenced former Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski and his close collaborator, Maciej Wasik, two figures from the populist nationalist party Law and Justice (PiS), to two years in prison for having exceeded their duties in a case dating back to 2007. Mr. Kaminski was at the time head of the central anti-corruption office and was convicted of orchestrating a false corruption case against a political official.

The two deputies were arrested on January 9 at the presidential palace, where they had spent the day, invited by the head of state, an ally of PiS. Mr. Duda then described the two men as “the first political prisoners since 1989”, the year of the fall of the communist regime in Poland, and denounced “the terror of the rule of law” in Poland.

A first pardon in 2015

“This is an unprecedented situation,” pro-European Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk commented before the arrest. “Convicted people who must be taken by the police to a place of isolation choose another place of isolation, probably more comfortable, (…) the presidential palace,” he criticized. Elected deputies in October, MM. Kaminski and Wasik have since seen their parliamentary mandates canceled, which they refuse to recognize. They had been on hunger strike since their incarceration.

The president had already pardoned MM. Kaminski and Wasik in 2015, after a trial conviction. But this pardon was later called into question by the Supreme Court for having been granted even before the courts ruled on appeal. Since the conviction was confirmed on appeal in December, Mr. Duda has always maintained that his pardon was legitimate and still in effect.