To the Commissioner for Citizen Rights of the Republic of Poland
Dear Mr. Spokesman,
We, the undersigned, request the Honorable Commissioner to submit, pursuant to Article 521 §1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, extraordinary cassation against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Lublin in the case against Pastor Paweł Chojecki, founder of the New Covenant Church in Lublin and the Against the Tide Television.
The ruling in the case, as well as the trial itself, brings shame to Poland for several reasons and constitutes a threat to freedom of religion and speech as fundamental civil liberties in a democratic state of law; it constitutes a direct threat to democracy and denies respect for constitutionally guaranteed values.
This ruling is a form of intimidation against religious minorities in Poland, a severe limitation of the freedom of the press in Poland and a direct disgrace to our history and tradition as a state of freedom and tolerance. After all, it mirrors a return to the times of the Inquisition, when the state authorities in corroboration with the hierarchs of the dominant Catholic church intimidated and persecuted other religions.
The Honorable Commissioner has already staged an intervention during the initial phase of this trial when the actions of the Lublin prosecutor’s office critically limited the right to defend the Protestant pastor.
The court of first instance instigated further violations that desecrated the standards demanded of a fair trial by refusing to interview many defense witnesses, accepting only the opinion of an expert selected by the prosecutor’s office, who, as it turned out during the proceedings, has no competency in the field of linguistics, media studies or Protestant homiletics. The opinion of an expert in the field of religious studies was deemed an inadequate source of evidence for providing important and relevant facts considering the subject matter of the trial.
Moreover, the expert appointed in the case, admitted before the adjudicating court, that he did not familiarize himself with the contents of any of the convicted Pastor’s sermons, despite being designated to provide counsel regarding them!
At the same time, the adjudicating court rejected the opinions of five defense experts, and although they were not admitted in the procedural sense, at minimum they advocated for the necessity of admitting and collecting evidence from their opinions. Among them were specialists with recognized achievements, including: prof. Tadeusz Bartoś, prof. Kazimierz Jodkowski and prof. Krzysztof Kilian.
The trial before the appellate court took place with a premeditated restriction on the right to defense as evidenced by the fact that the proceedings were held before an improperly staffed court (only one judge determined the development of the case instead of three).
The trial court disregarded the testimonies of influential Protestant pastors by indicating a certain “chilling effect” of this trial on the other pastors. The court also disregarded their testimonies about Pastor Paweł Chojecki’s statements falling within the framework of the Catholic versus Protestant polemic, which has been transpiring since the 16th century.
In his verbal justification, the judge of the Court of Appeal in Lublin dismissed the multi-page appeals of three law firms with a few generalities and an indication that Pastor Paweł Chojecki has a crystal-clear opinion, all of his statements and sermons are irreproachable in terms of substantive content, and the only issue taken up by the court regards… “the propriety of speech”!
As an indication of the alleged lack of propriety, which ought to be punished under the criminal act, the adjudicating court cited the following words: “idiotic”, “sleazy”, “Soviet crap”, which belong to the normal vocabulary of the decidedly vast majority of Poles as well as the ideological and worldview debate held in Poland.
These are just some of the court actions indicating that this trial is not about addressing any crime, but about silencing the Against the Tide Television which belongs to biblical Christians and the Protestant church, both of which represent a critical inconvenience to the supposed ruling party and the Catholic bishops.
Thus, stopping this flagrant attack on justice, democracy, and civil liberties in the Republic of Poland through the submission of an extraordinary cassation appeal against the ordained judgment to the Supreme Court by the Honorable Commissioner, presents as an urgent need for the welfare of civil society and is the only way to prevent this shameful wickedness from being further directed towards religious minorities in Poland.