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Polish court orders official to publicly apologize to judges

January 2, 2020 GMT
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File,in this photo, taken Dec. 22, 2015 Stanislaw Piotrowicz, right, a then-lawmaker for the ruling party Law and Justice and key backer of the party's controversial changes to the judiciary argues with a lawmaker in the parliament in Warsaw, Poland. On Thursday, a Warsaw court ruled that Piotrowicz must publicly apologize to the head of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, who sued him for calling Poland's judges "ordinary thieves." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
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File,in this photo, taken Dec. 22, 2015 Stanislaw Piotrowicz, right, a then-lawmaker for the ruling party Law and Justice and key backer of the party's controversial changes to the judiciary argues with a lawmaker in the parliament in Warsaw, Poland. On Thursday, a Warsaw court ruled that Piotrowicz must publicly apologize to the head of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, who sued him for calling Poland's judges "ordinary thieves." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish court has convicted a pro-government justice official for violating the good name of Poland’s judges by calling them “ordinary thieves” and has ordered a public apology and a roughly $5,000 fine.

The ruling Thursday has special significance at a time when the right-wing government is taking steps to subordinate the judiciary.

The Warsaw provincial court ruled against former prosecutor Stanislaw Piotrowicz, who is now a member of the top constitutional court. The verdict is subject to appeal.

Piotrowicz made the remark in 2018 at the height of public protests against government appointments to a top judicial body. He supported the appointments and alleged that some judges did not meet standards and needed to be replaced.

The head of the Supreme Court, Malgorzata Gersdorf, and judge Krzysztof Raczka sued Piotrowicz for violation of their personal rights.