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Case of blogger from Mosina goes to ECtHR

After over five years in Polish courts, in August 2014 the case of Łukasz Kasprowicz, a blogger from Mosina, a town located near Poznań, western Poland, was brought to the European Court of Human Rights.

From 2008 Łukasz Kasprowicz ran a blog on which he criticised the Mayor of Mosina. The Mayor submitted to the District Court Poznań – Stare Miasto a private indictment for defamation, an offence punishable under art. 212 of the Criminal Code (CC). In her pleading, the Mayor pointed out 15 posts which she found defamatory.

In 2011, the District Court found that a blog was a means of mass communication and that – by posting on his blog accusations regarding the actions of the Mayor of Mosina – Łukasz Kasprowicz had belittled the Mayor in the eyes of the public and exposed her to the loss of trust necessary to hold the Mayor’s office.

The Court sentenced the blogger to 10 months of community work, ordered him to pay a monetary sanction of PLN 500 to the Polish Red Cross and banned him from working as a journalist for a year. Mr Kasprowicz was also compelled to apologise and make the judgment publicly available.

The Circuit Court revoked the judgment and discontinued the proceedings on the grounds of the negligible social harm presented by the alleged offence. However, the Supreme Court admitted the complaint in cassation brought by an attorney for the private complainant and remanded the case for retrial on two occasions.

In the final judgment entered in January 2014, the Circuit Court in Poznań conditionally discontinued the proceedings against the applicant for a year probation period and ordered him to pay PLN 500 to the Fund for Victim and Post-Penitentiary Support.

In the application to the European Court of Human Rights attorneys for Mr Kasprowicz, Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska and Artur Pietryka argued the violation of art. 10 of the Convention (freedom of expression).

“The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has been watching the trial since day one”, says Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, HFHR’s lawyer. “In our opinion, the case should never have reached a criminal court, not to mention ending up with the blogger’s conviction. Instead, it should be resolved in civil proceedings, which are actually pending”, says Ms Bychawska-Siniarska.

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