Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Polish waiters, businessman sentenced in restaurant wiretaps

Published:Friday | December 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
European Council President Donald Tusk (left) gestures while speaking with Mayor of Aleppo Brita Hagi Hasan during a round-table meeting at an EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium earlier this month.

A Polish court handed prison sentences on Thursday to a businessman and two waiters convicted in the illegal wiretapping of top Polish politicians in expensive Warsaw restaurants.

The court sentenced Marek Falenta, the businessman convicted of masterminding the wiretapping, to 21/2 years in prison and gave shorter terms to the two waiters who secretly recorded the leaders' private conversations. A third waiter must pay a fine.

The release of the restaurant recordings sparked a political scandal in 2014 that contributed to the loss of power last year of Civic Platform, the centrist party that governed Poland for eight years.

The recordings caught top members of the government of former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, now the head of the European Council, using crude language and making rough assessments of foreign allies. The scandal led to the resignation of several senior officials, including Radek Sikorski, a former foreign minister and speaker of the Poland Parliament.

Sikorski and others were secretly taped during private meetings in Warsaw restaurants in 2013 and 2014. The recordings were leaked to a weekly magazine that published transcripts. Poles were angered that politicians, lobbyists and business people were debating political stratagems and deals while dining on lobster paid for with taxpayers' money.

The incident also put the spotlight on the country's security forces, which were criticised for failing to protect top officials from being spied on and wiretapped.

- AP