Poland’s president appoints acting head of Supreme Court

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday appointed an acting head of the beleaguered Supreme Court following the retirement of its president, who had vehemently defended its independence.

The court under Malgorzata Gersdorf has been critical of the steps that the right-wing government is taking to put Poland’s judiciary under political control. The court has also questioned the legality of new legislation the government is pushing to allow the upcoming presidential election to be held by mail. It has the authority to question the legality of elections.

Gersdorf is retiring Thursday and a crowd is gathering before the Supreme Court to thank her for her role in defending the independence of Poland’s judiciary and bid her farewell.

A court general assembly that should have shortlisted five candidates to succeed her has been put off until social distancing rules against the coronavirus spread are lifted.

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President Andrzej Duda, who has the authority to appoint the new head of the court, appointed one of the court’s judges, Judge Kamil Zaradkiewicz on Thursday to be the acting head. Zaradkiewicz had previously questioned the power of some of the rulings by another top court, the Constitutional Tribunal.

Critics said that according to the rule, the interim job should have been given to the court’s oldest judge, Jozef Iwulski.

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