The Daily Telegraph

Politician released so he can take role as MEP

- By James Crisp

A POLITICIAN accused of taking a €1million (£875,000) bribe and facing 12 years on corruption charges was released after eight months of preventati­ve custody because he became a member of the European Parliament.

Wlodzimier­z Karpinski, a former Polish treasury minister, will be given parliament­ary immunity as an MEP, which means any jail time he may face will be waived.

Mr Karpinski, a member of Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform, ran in the 2019 European Parliament elections as fourth on the party list but was not elected.

The MEP who was elected won a seat in the Polish parliament in October’s general election, leaving the European Parliament seat vacant.

The politician who was second on the list was also elected to the national parliament in a vote that has put Mr Tusk on the path to power.

The third person on the party list died in May, which means Mr Karpinski, the head of Warsaw’s waste management department, is next in line for the vacant MEP seat. He was arrested in February for allegedly taking a bribe of more than £870,000 from a company bidding on a rubbish collection contract and had been in detention ever since.

The investigat­ion by Poland’s anti-corruption agency also led to the arrest of Rafal Baniak, the former deputy treasury minister, and two businessme­n, who are suspected of illegally arranging contracts worth almost £111 million.

On Thursday, prosecutor­s revoked his arrest after the Polish parliament confirmed he had become an MEP.

“The prosecutor has been forced to revoke the preventati­ve measures applied to the suspect,” a spokesman said. “The suspect’s release will have a negative impact on the further course of procedures,”

Prosecutor­s added there was a “high probabilit­y” Mr Karpinski was guilty of corruption and accused him of “taking actions” to obstruct their investigat­ion.

Following his release, Mr Karpinski said: “I feel wronged by the prosecutor’s office and the way they acted that resulted in such a long stay in custody.”

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party won last month’s elections but does not have a majority. Its chances of forming a coalition government are slim.

Joining the European Parliament straight from prison was “a scandal on a European scale”, said Rafał Bochenek, a Law and Justice spokesman.

“The release from custody of Mr Karpinski, who faces serious corruption charges, and his assumption of the mandate of an MEP is a prominent symbol of the new coalition,” he added.

 ?? ?? Wlodzimier­z Karpinski was accused of taking a bribe in his government job
Wlodzimier­z Karpinski was accused of taking a bribe in his government job

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