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Polish husband and wife who took homemade explosives to Pride sentenced to just one year in prison

Emma Powys Maurice February 24, 2020
Poland: Couple jailed for one year after bringing explosives to Pride

Far-right extremists clash with riot police as they try to disrupt the Equality March in Lublin, western Poland (WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty)

A married couple have each been sentenced to just one year in prison for bringing three homemade explosive devices to a Pride parade in Lubin, Poland, last year.

The couple, whose surnames have not been disclosed under Polish law, are known as Karolina S, 21, and Arkadiusz S, 27. They were among around 200 counter-protestors hurling eggs, bottles and firecrackers at the event in September.

They were stopped by non-uniformed police in the crowd and found to be in possession of three explosives, which were made from gas canisters and fireworks. The explosives were detonated under controlled conditions and expert analysis showed that they could have injured or killed several people within an eight-metre radius.

During questioning, Arkadiusz confessed to making the explosives himself using information he found on the internet. He claimed he didn’t actually intend to hurt anyone, just to make a “big bang”.

However, he later confirmed that he was strongly opposed to LGBT+ people and the concept of Pride marches. He repeated a common Polish anti-LGBT+ slogan – “A boy, a girl: a normal family” – and said that he wears the Celtic cross symbol, which is often used by the far-right in Poland and elsewhere.

“The Celtic cross means I am for Poles, for family,” he said, quoted by NFP. “I have a wife and normal family. My wife also has children from a previous relationship. She has limited parental rights, [and] together we’re fighting for those children.”

Far-right extremists clash with riot police at the march in Lubin last year (WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP/Getty)

Prosecutors opted not to charge the couple with terrorism offences but instead charged them with the possession of explosive devices that threatened the health or life of a large number of people.

This carries a maximum sentence of eight years, but when the couple pleaded guilty the judge veered towards the lower end of the possible sentence – just one year in prison, minus their time in pre-trial detention.

The verdict was immediately condemned by Bartosz Staszewski, organiser of Lubin’s Pride march, who pointed out that the same sentence is given to those who refuse to pay alimony.

“We’re dealing with a couple who planned to kill or hurt participants of a peaceful assembly,” he told TOK FM. “It is terrifying that such short sentences were handed down. Homophobic crimes should be a priority for the state, but they are not.”

Poland sees surge in anti-LGBT+ sentiment.

Elsewhere in western Poland, a district court in Wrocław dismissed a lawsuit against the organisers of an anti-LGBT+ campaign that linked homosexuality with paedophilia, ruling that it was “informative and educational”.

And last week a French town renounced its ties with its sister city of Tuchów in southern Poland after it “tainted” their relationship by declaring itself to be “LGBT-free”. It is one of nearly 90 Polish towns to have signed a specific anti-LGBT+ pledge.

This surge in homophobia has been largely driven by the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS), with party leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński recently securing an election victory with a campaign that was centred on hardline homophobic views.

His call for Poland to resist the “travelling theatre” of Pride marches resonated with many Polish voters, and soon after many activists petitioned to ban the parades across the country.

 

 

 

More: Jaroslaw Kaczyński, Law and Justice (PiS), Lubin, Poland, Pride, terrorism

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