Former Solidarity activists accuse Polish president of dishonouring high state award

Former activists of the ‘Solidarity’ movement have accused Polish president Bronisław Komorowski of dishonouring one of the highest state awards – the Order of Polonia Restituta.

On January 24, 2011, Komorowski awarded a Knight’s Cross (i.e. the lowest category) of said order to Zbigniew Pannert, a former judge, for his “outstanding services in the public domain in aid of common justice.” An organisation of former ‘Solidarity’ activists called “WIR” from the north-east Polish town Białystok, however, called attention to the fact that Pannert belonged to the key figures of local repressions during the state of martial law in the 1980s. Specifically, he sentenced two activists to three years in prison for handing out flyers in a campaign to release prisoners.

Tomasz Nałęcz, presidential adviser for historical affairs, explained that the presidential office did not have the resources to scrutinize all candidates for the award of the order – in the case at hand (as in previous cases), the office relied on the recommendation of the ministry of justice. The office of the president commented on the matter saying that the award had been given to Pannert in connection with his contribution to the foundation of the Polish court of Appeal twenty years ago.

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