Wałęsa must apologise to Kaczyński: Court verdict

Judge Weronika Klawonn presiding over the case delivers her verdict that Mr Wałęsa should issue a public apology to Mr Kaczyński, Gdańsk, 06.12.2018 Photo: PAP/Adam Warżawa

The leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Jarosław Kaczyński has won his libel action against Lech Wałęsa, former Solidarity legend and former Polish President.

The judge presiding over the case read out the judgement in a Gdańsk court. The verdict is that Mr Wałęsa should issue a public apology to Mr Kaczyński. The court verdict did not award a compensatory payment that Mr kaczyński had demanded be payed to a charity.

The case concerned Lech Wałęsa’s allegations that Jarosław Kaczyński caused the Smolensk air crash by insisting his brother, the then President Lech Kaczyński, forced the pilot to land the plane. The plane crash occurred in April 2010 killing all 96 passengers on board. The PiS leader sued Mr Wałęsa for libel.

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During the hearing of the libel action Mr Kaczyński denied he had spoken to his brother about landing the plane during their brief conversation during the ill-fated flight. He said that he and his brother had only talked about the serious illness of their mother. During his testimony Jarosław Kaczyński also mentioned that Mr Wałęsa had accused him of being a homosexual back in the 1990s when that was still an insult. He said that Mr Wałęsa had accused him of being ‘mentally ill” after the Smoleńsk air tragedy. The PiS leader resented Mr Wałęsa’s allegations that it was Mr Kaczyński who was behind the documents that have emerged on Mr Wałęsa’s alleged cooperation with the communist secret police in the 1970s.

Lech Wałęsa did not retract his statements. The court’s proposal for the two men to reach a settlement was rejected. Mr Kaczyński demanded a public apology from Mr Wałęsa and the payment of 30,000 PLN to an oncological hospice in Warsaw.

Judge Klawonn, presiding over the case was criticised in parts of the media for the fact that she had been photographed in an anti-government T-shirt. This made some undeasy as to her ability to make a balanced judgement in the case.