Europe

Polish government: protesting lawmakers could face prison

  • Parliament Speaker Marek Kuchcinski, top second right, opens the parliament session, only to declare a break till Thursday, as opposition lawmakers block the podium, in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. The parliament's session hall is occupied by a group of opposition lawmakers as they continue a protest since Dec.16, 2016 against the policies of the ruling Law and Justice party, causing delay to the first session of 2017. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    Parliament Speaker Marek Kuchcinski, top second right, opens the parliament session, only to declare a break till Thursday, as opposition lawmakers block the podium, in Warsaw, Poland, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. The parliament's session hall is occupied by a group of opposition lawmakers as they continue a protest since Dec.16, 2016 against the policies of the ruling Law and Justice party, causing delay to the first session of 2017. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

  • Jaroslaw Kaczynski, center, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, with his party members Ryszard Terlecki, left and Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak attend the parliament session after opposition lawmakers ended their protest in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. The parliament session hall was occupied by opposition lawmakers in a protest against the budget vote that was according to them illegal. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    Jaroslaw Kaczynski, center, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, with his party members Ryszard Terlecki, left and Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak attend the parliament session after opposition lawmakers ended their protest in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. The parliament session hall was occupied by opposition lawmakers in a protest against the budget vote that was according to them illegal. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

  • Opposition lawmakers occupy the empty session hall as they continue their protest since Dec. 16 to protest a budget that they say was passed illegally, in the parliament in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Poland's interior minister says opposition lawmakers blocking the podium in parliament could face fines and possibly even up to 10 years of prison. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

    Opposition lawmakers occupy the empty session hall as they continue their protest since Dec. 16 to protest a budget that they say was passed illegally, in the parliament in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Poland's interior minister says opposition lawmakers blocking the podium in parliament could face fines and possibly even up to 10 years of prison. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)  (The Associated Press)

Poland's interior minister says opposition lawmakers blocking the podium in parliament could face fines and possibly even up to 10 years of prison.

Mariusz Blaszczak spoke Thursday as several lawmakers with the centrist opposition party Civic Platform continued a blockade in parliament ahead of a session expected to open later in the day.

Opposition lawmakers have staged the blockade since Dec. 16 to protest a budget that they say was passed illegally.

Blaszczak said the lawmakers are breaking the law by preventing the Speaker of the Sejm, or lower house of parliament, from carrying out his duties.

Lawmakers enjoy parliamentary immunity but it can be stripped from them in some cases.