AP International

Prison sentences for political activists who defrauded Polish Red Cross to fund election campaign

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish court has convicted nine people, including two former activists of the governing Law and Justice party, of using donations to the regional Red Cross to fund an election campaign.

The court in the city of Wroclaw estimated the scam cost the Red Cross some 3 million zlotys ($660,000).

The court sentenced the former head of the Wroclaw regional Red Cross, identified only as Jerzy G., to three years and five months in prison. His deputy, Piotr B., received a sentence of two years and seven months.

Both were activists for Law and Justice, serving as a regional councilor and a lawmaker respectively.

They have also been ordered to refund the money and pay fines. Others received prison terms of between 12 and 18 months, two of them suspended terms.

The verdict is subject to appeal.

Graphic novels are displayed for sale at a bookstore in New York City on Sunday, October 8, 2023. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for September. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
Graphic novels are displayed for sale at a bookstore in New York City on Sunday, October 8, 2023. On Tuesday, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for September. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

The court found them guilty of selling clothes and food donated to the Red Cross in order to funnel money to Law and Justice for its regional campaign during the 2015 parliamentary election. The party won that election and is currently in its second term of government.

The verdict adds to image problems for Law and Justice, which has started campaigning intensively to win a third term in parliamentary elections in the fall. Questions are being raised over tens of millions of zlotys of subsidies from the Education Ministry that have gone into real estate purchases rather than to education programs.

Political parties in Poland receive state subsidies and can receive private donations but are banned from doing business or drawing funds from business.

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