A court has ordered Antoni Macierewicz, the deputy leader of opposition party Law and Justice (PiS), to apologise to the prime minister, Donald Tusk, and two other ministers in his government for accusing them of “hiding the perpetrators” of the 2010 Smolensk plane crash.
“The court found the PiS MP’s words to be scandalous, unacceptable and untrue,” announced Roman Giertych, an MP from the ruling coalition and a lawyer who represented Tusk and the two other politicians, foreign minister Radosław Sikorski and security services minister Tomasz Siemoniak.
According to the court decision, part of which was published by Giertych, Macierewicz will be obliged to publish on X (formerly Twitter) an apology saying that he had claimed “untruthfully and baselessly that Tusk is hiding criminals, perpetrators of the Smolensk catastrophe”.
Tak brzmią przeprosiny, które Antoni Macierewicz ma napisać na swoim profilu Twitter z przeprosinami dla Donalda Tuska. Analogicznie ma napisać w odniesieniu do R. Sikorskiego i T. Siemoniaka. pic.twitter.com/0rGNqVBa3e
— Roman Giertych (@GiertychRoman) February 2, 2024
The press office at Warsaw’s district court confirmed today’s verdict to the Rzeczpospolita daily and Wirtualna Polska news website. The ruling is not yet final, however, and can be appealed.
The case dates back to the time when PiS was still in power. Macierewicz served in the PiS government as defence minister as well as as head of a commission established to re-examine the causes of the 2010 crash that killed President Lech Kaczyński and 95 others in Smolensk, Russia.
Previously, official Polish and Russian investigations had found the tragedy to have been an accident. But PiS, whose chairman Jarosław Kaczyński is the identical twin brother of Lech, claims that it was caused deliberately and that the then government, also led by Tusk, was involved in either carrying out or covering up the plot.
Smolensk was an “attack decided at the highest level of the Kremlin”, says Jarosław Kaczyński ahead of the 12th anniversary of the crash.
Donald Tusk’s government then “covered up” the incident as part of a “macabre reconciliation with Russia”, he adds https://t.co/5ae0gHJj3B
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) April 4, 2022
In 2020, Macierewicz tweeted that Tusk, Sikorski and Siemoniak “have been harbouring criminals, the perpetrators of the Smoleńsk Tragedy” for “10 YEARS, 122 months, 528 weeks, 3699 days”.
At the time of the crash, Sikorski and Siemoniak were foreign and defence ministers respectively in Tusk’s then government. The trio returned to power in December 2023 as part of a new government, again led by Tusk.
“T. Arabski convicted, time for the rest,” added Macierewicz referring to Tomasz Arabski, Tusk’s chief of staff in 2010, who was convicted in 2019 of failing to fulfil his duties concerning the organisation of the flight to Smoleńsk. In December last year, his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court.
10 lat, 122 miesięcy, 528 tygodni, 3699 dni: T. Siemoniak, D. Tusk, R. Sikorski i inni ukrywają przestępców, sprawców Tragedii Smoleńskiej. T. Arabski skazany, czas na resztę.
— Antoni Macierewicz (@Macierewicz_A) May 26, 2020
Sikorski welcomed today’s decision by a court to order Macierewicz to apologise for his accusations. “What remains is anger that such a cynical nutcase was given authority over the Polish army and public funds to propagate delusions,” added Sikorski.
In 2022, Sikorski also won a defamation case against Jarosław Kaczyński, who had accused Sikorski of “diplomatic treason” in relation to the Smolensk crash. The pair last year settled the case after Kaczyński agreed to make a donation of 50,000 zloty (€10,621) to Ukraine’s armed forces.
However, in another case, a court last year ordered Sikorski to apologise to Jarosław Kaczyński for a tweet suggesting that Lech Kaczyński was himself responsible for the Smolensk crash. Sikorski in in the process of appealing that ruling.
A court has ordered @sikorskiradek, a leading opposition figure, to apologise to ruling party chief Jarosław Kaczyński for a tweet suggesting that his late brother, President Lech Kaczyński, was responsible for the plane crash that killed him and 95 others https://t.co/fHYRZYZdcG
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 21, 2023
Two days after Tusk’s new government took office in December, its defence minister, Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz, signed an order to close down Macierewicz’s Smolensk commission.
The commission had spent tens of millions of zloty on reinvestigating the crash but, despite regular announcements by Macierewicz and Kaczyński that the truth about the tragedy would soon be revealed, no conclusive new evidence was ever presented.
Macierewicz himself has not yet publicly commented on today’s court decision.
Poland’s new government has abolished the commission established by its predecessor to reinvestigate the Smolensk crash.
It says the body was responsible for spreading „lies”.
But the commission’s head, Antoni Macierewicz, says the move is illegal https://t.co/A04apsJ0fE
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 16, 2023
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Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.