WARSAW, Poland – A team of prosecutors will investigate suspected irregularities in the restoration of Warsaw property seized by the communists to private owners, a spokesman for the national prosecutor's office said Thursday.
Cases have been revealed in which persons seeking restitution concealed the deaths of owners they claimed to represent, or in which lawyers or businessmen paid glaringly low amounts of money to buy restitution rights from rightful owners.
Restitution became possible in 1990, after communist rule ended. Irregularities in the restitution process have been public knowledge for years, but they are now at the heart of political struggle for control of Warsaw which is run by the Civic Platform party, in opposition to the national government.
Since 1990, most Warsaw mayors have been linked to parties that gave rise to the Civic Platform, except between 2002 and 2005 when Law and Justice ran the city and also made some restitution decisions.
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the city's Civic Platform mayor since 2006, called an extraordinary city council session on Thursday and was to give a report on the restitution of real estate seized by communist authorities under a 1945 decree. The authorities argued it was necessary to help them reconstruct Poland's capital that was devastated in World War II.
As the mayor addressed the meeting, shown live on TVN24, dozens of Warsaw residents and representatives of left-wing groups who filled the room whistled and chanted to blame her and demand her resignation.
Earlier Thursday Gronkiewicz-Waltz said she had no intention of resigning.
Spokesman for the national prosecutor's office, Maciej Kujawski, said that special prosecutors will investigate alleged irregularities.