Warsaw: court will decide what to do with investigation into policemen who tortured anarchists
Tomorrow the court will decide whether to resume the investigation against the police officers who tortured three warsaw anarchists in May 2016.
Three years... Three long years have passed since the investigation of the torture to which the warsaw anarchists were subjected has been continued. This happened on May 2016, when they were arrested by the police while trying to set on fire two police cars. The case of the Warsaw Three ended a long time ago, but the investigation against the officers has not yet found its final. We are not talking about a court trial here, because no charges have ever been made in this case. Instead, since 2016, the case has remained on the desk of the prosecutors, who have already remitted it twice.
Tomorrow, on 6 August, a meeting of the court of second instance will be held, which is to decide whether the investigation into torture (or rather - abuse of powers by police officers, because there is no paragraph in the polish criminal code for torture) will be resumed once again.
** The context, or the case of the "Warsaw Three" **
Everything started in the night from 22nd to 23rd May 2016, when three warsaw anarchists took the action of setting on fire two police cars. On the spot, police units, including a special unit to fight criminal terror, prepared an ambush for them. Two days later, during a press conference convened by the police and the prosecutor's office, the spokesman for the police proudly announced that the special services had long been investigating anarchist circles and that the "operational information" they had collected allowed them to catch anarchists in the act of committing a crime. We never knew what this "operational information" was and where it came from, even though during the trial the defense tried to find an answer to that question.
After the press conference, storm-media began. All portals and newspapers wrote about the detained "anarchists terrorists", and the prosecutor's office fuelled the atmosphere by threatening to accuse them of possessing explosives and endangering the life and health of many people, for which they were to be threatened by up to 10 years in prison. The warsaw three were detained in custody for four months. They were detained in the "N" unit, for the dangerous ("niebezpieczni" in polish) - that is in solitary confinement. Their correspondence and the possibility of contact with their loved ones were severely limited. Let us recall a few headlines from that time: "Warsaw. The anarchists wanted to assassinate the police station. They were detained", "Anarchists wanted to blow up the police station in Warsaw!", "They were preparing a bomb attack on the police station in Warsaw", or "Ideological children of Michnik and Sierakowski are blowing up the police stations".
From the very beginning, the prosecutor's office must have been aware of the fact that it is not able to make these charges. However, the prosecutor claimed that it was necessary to keep anarchists in custody even though they did not take any steps in the case. In the end, the prosecutor's sluggishness was also noticed in the court, which in September 2016 decided to release the guys after paying a bail of 20 thousand polish zlotys each (around 4650 euro). The prosecutor's office needed six months and several expert opinions to conclude that what they actually had with them that night was mere petrol, which at best could be damaged by some parts of police cars. In June 2017, they were sentenced to three months in prison (which were counted towards the investigative jail), two years of community service, 30 hours a month each, a 300 zloty fine (70 euro) and the need to pay court fees.
** Torture **
(Note: The following fragments contain a description of torture)
Just as the case of the boys themselves and what they tried to do had a wide impact on society and the left-wing and anarchist movements as well, it was difficult to gather peoples' attention on how they were detained. This was particularly brutal. Beating, pepper spray, multiple electric shocks in sensitive places - also in the vicinity of the heart, police dog biting are just some of the "police activities" that each of them mentioned. Torture also took place when the detainees were already lying on the ground with hand-cuts and could not resist. It happened at the place of detention, as well as after being transported to the police station. The police shared with the media several photos and video recordings of the activities that had already been carried out at police station. On all these materials one of the detainees was shown only from behind. We knew why. On May 25th, two days after the arrest, a small support group appeared at the courthouse in Warsaw. The court was to decide about their detention. Each of the warsaw three was brought to the court in a guarded group of fully armed and masked anti-terrorists. That was also a moment when we could see with our own eyes their injuries. The face of one of them was massacred and swollen.
They did not make any complaints about police brutality of the officers. It was the prosecutor's office that initiated the investigation when, during the interrogation, anarchists reported police behaviors during that night. The wawa3 support group, which organized a solidarity campaign with the detainees, tried to make this topic public, but this was only possible after the boys were released from custody when they could tell their own story. What kind of torture they experienced they were talking about during the Anti-Prison Days in 2016, as well as during the meeting held on the day of the first trial. The campaign website also featured several statements in which they referred to their experiences.
This is how one of them described what happened to him after police stopped him when he was already handcuffed and overpowered:
"(...) One of them leaned down and sprayed gas right into my eyes shouting "You f****r!" I was beaten on the face. I tried to protect my head. Then another policeman pressed me to the ground with his knee, held my head to the ground with one hand and beat me with the other. (...) A man kicked with a taser shouts very specifically, enters a certain frequency quickly and stays on it. Nothing can be done about it, it's a reaction. So I was screaming, and I heard that the others were screaming the same way. The police didn't like the fact that we were making so much noise, so they took me to the van. I was lying on the floor handcuffed and he hit me with a taser near my heart and crotch, asking who told us to do it (...). He covered my mouth with his hand so nobody could hear me screaming. He promised me that if anything happens to any of them, they will find a way to do not keep me alive. (…)”
The next one: "While forging by one of the cars in the police parking lot, I heard the noise and stamping of heavy shoes. I got up, and after a few seconds I was knocked down by five, maybe six policemen from the department of realization of the warsaw headquarters. I was kicked and beaten all over my body. My pockets were searched and my hands were cuffed with plastic clamps on my back. They asked me questions: "Who told you to do it?", "what's in the containers?". I didn't answer any of the questions, which resulted in even more beating. At one point the policemen stated that kicking the crotch, hitting the face with a flashlight and hitting the ribs wouldn't be enough. A two-way taser was used on me. I was struck by it in the area of thighs, back and crotch - still asking the same questions. After some time I was lifted up and started digging on the tailbone, a few meters further I was knocked down to the ground again. They brought a shepherd who, when I didn't move, didn't pay any attention to me at all. They explained to me what would happen soon. If I still don't answer the questions I'm asked, I'll be stunned again, which will make the dog attacking me because I'll be shaking lying on the ground. So it was. The dog was wearing a muzzle but tried to bite through it to get to my face. My larynx shrank because of taser, I started to suffocate. The policemen joked that I was probably stoned and that's why I made such strange sounds while breathing. After some time I was moved to a car, where I was kicked again, this time for no reason at all.
"After being transported to the police station, a few people (I write people because I don't know if they were police officers, they were masked, there were no signs of institution or number on their clothes) started the interrogation, I was lying on the floor, handcuffed, in bloody clothes. I was beaten and strangled, they used the taser again in turns asking questions. Questions not connected with the arrest itself at all, questions about the movement. I think it lasted over an hour.
** Three years, no move **
So far, there is no paragraph on torture in polish law. Torture does not officially exist in this country. What is the truth you can read in one of our texts: "Poland as a country free from torture" (https://resiste.squat.net/?p=24587). After the first hearings about police cars case and the reports of Warsaw anarchists on the course of the arrest, the prosecution itself decided to initiate an investigation into the suspicion that the police officers had exceeded their powers. However, this is where the case got stuck. The investigation, although initiated while the anarchists were still in custody, was quickly closed. The defenders of two of them decided to appeal this decision, so in January 2017 a meeting of the court of the first instance was held to decide whether it would be resumed. The lawyer drew the court's attention to several shortcomings related to the discontinuance of the case, such as not hearing the victim before deciding to close the case, or the disappearance of the testimony of the second of the three detainees. A month later, the first instance court identified irregularities in the work of the prosecution and issued special recommendations on how to resume and investigate the case. Nevertheless, after some time, it was again closed by the prosecutor's office. And once again, the defense appealed against this decision, so the case went to the court of the second instance.
This is how we come to the present day, that is, August 2019. Tomorrow, at 12:00 in warsaw, the court of the second instance is going to make the final decision on the resumption or closing of the investigation. Let us remind you, it is only about the investigation, not any court case with charges against officers. If the court decides to discontinue, it means the end of the legal route in the polish "justice" system for the warsaw three.
As a Warsaw Anarchist Black Cross, we fully agree with one of the statements made by the Wawa3 Solidarity Campaign: "We want to stress that we do not believe in the state justice system, but we want to expose the abuses of the police, the prosecutor's office and the whole this system, which from one side allows beating, torture and kill, and the other to cover up and silence these actions. Perhaps (...) we will be able to show at least a small part of this system. Disclosing the scale of abuse is important for each of us, who have met and will meet with police violence on more than one occasion. We want to use every possibility to expose the police state system".
Solidarity is our weapon!
Warsaw's Anarchist Black Cross
The text was written based on materials from the Solidarity Campaign website: www.wawa3.noblogs.org
This is the source of quotations describing torture and information on the case and investigation into the abuse of powers by officers.