Polish judge critical of government barred from returning to work

A Warsaw judge fiercely critical of the government's overhaul of the judiciary has been denied the right to return to work, despite a Warsaw court earlier issuing a ruling ordering that he be reinstated to his post.

On Saturday, the website of the public TV broadcaster TVP wrote that Igor Tuleya, suspended almost two years ago by the now liquidated Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, had been allowed to return to work by the president of the Warsaw district court, Joanna Przanowska-Tomaszek. He was also to be sent on overdue leave.

But on Monday Tuleya told a press conference that the president of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw had revoked this decision.

He said that after he appeared in the district court on Monday morning to pick up the order reinstating him to his post, at the same time he also received a letter from the president of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw, Piotr Schab, signed by his deputy Przemyslaw Radzik.

Schab, was in 2018 appointed by Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister and prosecutor general, as the official overseeing disciplinary cases against judges.

"The President of the Court of Appeal by the order of today, in connection with the internal administrative supervision over the district court, revoked the decision of the president of the district court of August 5 on admitting me to adjudication," Tuleya cited the letter.

Tuleya was stripped of his immunity in November, 2020 by the then Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber, which was set up to deal with judges who behave unethically or break the law, and those who question the legitimacy of the government-reformed National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), the body which nominates judges.

The Disciplinary Chamber wanted to press charges against Tuleya for allowing media access to a court hearing in 2017 in which he was ruling on a case sensitive to the government. His refusal to be questioned by prosecutors has come to symbolise the rift between the government and some judges over a controversial judicial overhaul that has created tension with the EU.

According to Poland's opposition, the charges against Tuleya are politically motivated and contravene EU regulations on the rule of law.