German entrepreneur charged with hate speech faces court

Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska (L) during the hearing on the "hate speech" against the German entrepreneur on Tuesday. Photo: PAP/Adam Warżawa

The hearing on the so-called hate speech against the German entrepreneur Hans G. (name withheld under Polish privacy laws) took place in the District Court in Gdańsk, northern Poland.

The civil proceedings for violation of personal rights against a German entrepreneur, co-owner of the Pos System company from Pomeranian province, northern Poland, were initiated by the former employee of the company Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska in 2017. The plaintiff was managing projects at the defendant’s company from June 2015 to January 2016.

In March 2016, private TV broadcaster Telewizja Republika aired a programme in which Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska presented recorded footage in which several heavy insults could be heard. The German entrepreneur said, among others, "I hate Poles, not only I do not like them, I hate them! They are all idiots. It's better in Africa. You're shit. Yes, I am! I am a Nazi! It is the fault of this country (Poland) that I am like that," the businessman said. "I would kill all Poles, I would not have a problem with it", one can also hear on the recording. Hans G. also offended the Warsaw Rising insurgents and expressed his joy from the Smoleńsk plane crash.

53-year-old Hans G. confirmed on Tuesday that the recordings are genuine.

“The footage presents me as if I was a demon, as if I persecuted my workers.This is unfair to me. Mrs. Nitek-Płażyńska used many half-truths which were to bring her political benefits (the plaintiff was then a candidate for parliament from the ruling Law and Justice [PiS] party list), the defendant said.

He pointed out that his statements were in a stressful situation when his company was threatened with severance of the contract with the client and large financial losses, and under no circumstances does he think that Germany is better than Poland.

“Now, I am aware of how my words are perceived by Poles, but then I did not have such awareness. I spoke in anger, it was not my intention to insult the Poles, and I regret what I said then,” he stated.

Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska claimed that Hans G. made gestures to her and other employees, as if he wanted to shoot them.

“He told me that if war broke out, I would be the first to be killed, because I’m a Polish patriot,” she said.

She added that when it was revealed that she was running for Parliament from the PiS list, "Hans G.'s attacks became more personal"

“I recorded these conversations, because the problem was only growing, I began to feel more and more besieged. For me, these recordings were the last resort. I often came back home crying. I only regret that I started recording so late,” Mrs Nitek-Płażyńska stressed.

The next hearing, in which the final closing speeches will be made, is scheduled for January 29, 2019.

The plaintiff demands an apology from Hans G. and compensation to the amount of PLN 150,000.

Hans G. was charged with five offenses under art. 216 of the Criminal Code (punishable by either a fine or a custodial sentence), regarding the use of words commonly considered as offensive. Moreover, the German businessman was accused of "threatening one of the victims of committing a crime against life,” punishable by up to two years in prison.

Natalia Nitek-Płażyńska is a wife of Kacper Płażyński, a PiS member and a son of Maciej Płażyński, who died in the Smoleńsk presidential plane crash in 2010.