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Polish officials may face charges over secret CIA prisons

1st June 2011
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Charges may even be brought against former Prime Minister Leszek Miller

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Polish state prosecutors are considering bringing charges against members of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) for their alleged involvement in secret CIA prisons located on Polish soil between 2002-2005. The prisons were allegedly used to torture terrorist suspects from al-Qaeda.

Officials from the leftist SLD government in power at the time, including former Prime Minister Leszek Miller, may be charged with violating Poland's constitution, helping to illegally imprison a number of people and with participating in crimes against humanity.

That's according to documents released by daily Gazeta Wyborcza, which show that former deputy prosecutor Jerzy Mierzewski, who was recently removed from the investigation, wanted to press these charges.

The Prosecutor's Office has said that Mr Mierzewski's removal will not affect the overall investigation, but it is still not known if the specific charges will remain.

The documents include a list of questions which prosecutors asked legal experts. The experts determined that there is no law that would allow a foreign intelligence center to be located in Poland but be outside the jurisdiction of the Polish government. Moreover, they said the operation of such a center would breach the Polish constitution and that if prisoners were held at such a place, they would potentially be able to qualify as victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The experts also came to the conclusion that “enhanced interrogation techniques,” like waterboarding, used by the US to extract information, do not comply with international law.

In an interview with radio station TOK FM, Mr Miller called journalists investigating the allegations “useful idiots,” a term previously used to describe Soviet sympathizers in Western countries.

The former prime minister claimed that an open discussion of the prisons endangered the country, saying, “Next year we will organize Euro 2012 and this is a great opportunity for al-Qaeda to remember about Poland.”

The US government says that information gathered from CIA interrogations in secret prisons in Eastern Europe helped its special forces to locate and then kill Osama bin Laden.

Thomas Kolasa

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