WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s prosecutors said Wednesday they have charged the former leader of a massive anti-government movement with misappropriation of the movement’s funds and false statements in its financial documents.
Mateusz Kijowski, the former head of the Committee for the Defense of Democracy, or KOD, and the movement’s former treasurer were questioned by prosecutors in Swidnica, in the southwest. The movement, which accuses the government of anti-democratic policies, has led massive street protests across Poland but its power seems to be waning, partly due to the investigation into payments for Kijowski.
Spokesman for the prosecutors, Tomasz Orepuk, said the charges against Kijowski include wrongly invoicing KOD in 2016 and being paid some 121,000 zlotys (29,000 euros, $33,000) for IT services he did not provide. Payment of another 15,000 zlotys was blocked by other KOD board members. Moreover, the money came from the movement’s public collection “For democracy” and the payment to Kijowski was in violation of the collection’s goal, Orepuk said.
Conviction on the charges, which were also lodged against the former treasurer, identified only at Piotr C., carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison. After being questioned, Kijowski told reporters he did not confess to any wrongdoing and insisted that all of the movement’s financial decisions were taken collectively, in line with its rules.
“I have committed no crime,” Kijowski said. Last month, the movement voted in a new leader to replace Kijowski, who did not seek re-election.