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Court throws out insulting president sentence

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 17.01.2013 15:53
A Polish appeal court has thrown out a sentence of a man previously found guilty of insulting the Polish head of state.

Robert Frycz: photo - PAP/Grzegorz Michalowski

Robert Frycz (right to anonymity waived by the defendant) will however have to carry out 30 hours of community service, after the court upheld a separate sentence for forging documents.

In September last year, a court in Piotrkow Trybunalski, central Poland, had found Frycz guilty of one of two charges of insulting President Bronislaw Komorowski.

He was given 15 months of community service (40 hours per month), and 15 months of 'restriction of liberty', the latter entailing that he is not permitted to change his permanent address without permission from the court until the aforementioned period has elapsed. Today the court upheld that he must serve the remaining twelve months.

Frycz had created and run a web site named anty-komor.pl, in which users could take shots at the president in video games. Meanwhile, the Piotrkow Trybunalski court deemed that manipulated images of Komorowski on the site had a “clearly sexual, erotic dimension.”

Frycz had argued from the outset that his web site was “satirical.”

The original September sentence drew criticism from some circles, including a damning statement from The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

“In a modern democracy criminal sanctions for insulting heads of state are out of place, especially since the European Court of Human Rights has for decades overturned such verdicts,” stated Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

Komorowski himself has attempted to distance himself from the case, saying that he “can manage without such legal protection.”

He told Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza that “if you are in politics you have to have a thick skin.

The law on insulting the head of state endures from Poland's pre-1989, communist era.

Nevertheless, while Frycz's lawyers had sought a milder sentence when the case was taken up by the appeal court, the prosecution insisted that the initial sentence had been too lenient.

Meanwhile, this week, another Pole was charged with insulting the president, in connection with a blog post criticizing President Komorowski. (nh)

tags: komorowski
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