Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Polish editor fined over Polish Pope jokes
A court in Warsaw found Jerzy Urban guilty of insulting a head of state by writing a satirical article on the eve of the pontiff's 2002 visit to Poland.If it's a crime to insult a head of state in Poland, that may explain the odd fact that Poland is the only EU country whose people think the world is safer because of the re-election of George Bush. They haven't been keeping up with the news, since genuine reporting and "insulting a head of state" are indistinguishable when it comes to George Bush.
Mr Urban, 71, said he was exercising the right to free expression.
Earlier, the press freedom group Reporters without Borders said a prosecution would set a "dangerous precedent" for an EU state.
In his article, titled Walking Sadomasochism, Mr Urban referred to the Pope's frailty, describing him as "the Brezhnev of the Vatican" and an "impotent old man".
Opponents of Mr Urban, who attended the trial, shouted "too little" when the fine was announced, the agency reports. Prosecutors had requested a 10-month suspended prison sentence.
The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says the Pope's standing among Poles is so high that almost any public criticism of the Pope is taboo.