Polish minister releases neo-Nazi from prison

By Bartosz Sieniawski
Jul 17, 2023

Eurosceptic Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who also serves as attorney general, has decided to release a 21-year-old far-right activist and neo-Nazi sentenced to three years in prison for attacking a woman at an LGBT event in 2020.

Marika Matuszak and three other radicals attempted to snatch a rainbow-coloured bag as the individual took part in Pride Poznań. According to the case file, Matuszak and two other perpetrators caused bruises and sprains to the victim’s hands and wrists. The three-year sentence enforced was the minimum possible for the court to apply in the case.

The 21-year-old was 12 months into a three-year sentence. Recently, her case became notorious when the fundamentalist Catholic institute Ordo Iuris launched a campaign for her release from prison, arguing that a softer sentence could have been applied and stating they will make public files from the case on Monday.

On Friday, the justice minister decided to release Matuszak by transporting her home, where she is to await a pardon from President Andrzej Duda.

According to the institute’s representatives, she had been sentenced unjustly and for ideological reasons.

An extreme right campaign flared up on the internet, calling for the release of the aggressor, who was seen as a ‘defender of traditional values’ and working against ‘LGBT terror’.

Her assault was belittled and reduced to a simple bag tug, and the blame for her punishment was placed on the ‘caste of judges’, a popular term used by the Eurosceptic right for courts that do not agree with the Polish authorities.

“The court threw a young girl in jail for three years because she protested against the promotion of leftist ideology and homosexuality. Courts ruthlessly punish Poles for defending faith and values. For attacking churches, beating up believers and spitting on police officers, they let them go free. A separate issue is the actions of some prosecutors in this case. This will not remain without consequences…” Ziobro wrote on Twitter.

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When questioned by journalists on the matter over the weekend, Ziobro did not answer and instead accused the journalist of “arrogance,” a “lack of respect”, and of being an opposition “functionary”.

Internet users quickly discovered that the woman had radical right views and found photos of her wearing neo-Nazi emblems such as a Celtic cross.

The woman was linked to another radical right-wing activist, posing for photos with the Third Reich flag and wearing a uniform reminiscent of the uniforms worn by the secret police in Nazi Germany, the Gestapo. He was sentenced alongside Matuszak for partaking in the same attack.

The woman and her partner were co-founders of the neo-Nazi organisation Front for National Cleansing, which had as its primary goal ‘the cleansing of all Poland from all blemishes, filth and enemies of the Polish Nation’.

Meanwhile, Ziobro has announced that the people in the prosecutor’s office who decided to convict the nationalist and bring charges against her for the assault will be held accountable.

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