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Warsaw mayor fined for failing to attend restitution hearing

A powerful new commission investigating Poland’s so-called restitution scandal has fined Warsaw’s mayor PLN 6,000 (EUR 1,400) for failing to attend a hearing, despite being summoned, The Polish Radio reports.

The commission wanted to question Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz over the restitution of two buildings in the heart of the Polish capital, one of which resulted in a prestigious school being forced to change premises.

Gronkiewicz-Waltz has said she would contest the fines.

She earlier announced she would not appear before the commission because she thought the body was unconstitutional

She has asked Poland’s administration court to determine whether the commission was legal.

Two others were heard by the commission on Thursday – a former City Hall real estate chief and a businessman accused of trading property rights.

The real estate chief claimed that the case of the school was considered before the restitution deal went ahead and that it was decided that a school in Warsaw’s centre was not needed.

While the hearing went ahead, Warsaw City Hall announced on Thursday that the deeds had never been signed by new owners because official investigations into the whereabouts of the rightful property owners uncovered that not all of them had been considered in the restitution deal.

“The city made great efforts, contacting places such as Shanghai, Brazil, the US and Canada. Eventually, we were able to identify that, indeed, not all heirs were considered in the deal,” a spokesman for City Hall said.

“That formed the grounds to launch procedures with an aim of nullifying the decisions [to hand over the deeds],” he added.

The origins of the scandal date back to the seizure of property under the October 1945 Bierut Decree, named after former Polish communist leader Bolesław Bierut, which legalised the confiscation of plots of private land in the capital.

Thousands of private buildings were taken from their owners.

After the fall of communism in Poland in 1989, it has been possible to submit claims for the return of such confiscated property.


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