Polish lawmaker loses immunity after extinguishing Hanukkah candles in parliament

The Polish Sejm has lifted the parliamentary immunity of Confederation MP Grzegorz Braun as he faces seven charges for actions committed between 2022 and 2023

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: polsatnews.pl
Confederation party PM Grzegorz Braun speaks to parliament in Warsaw, Poland, on Dec. 11, 2023. Braun used a fire extinguisher on Tuesday and put out the burning candles on a menorah that were lit for the Jewish holiday Hanukkah in the parliament, sparking condemnation of other politicians. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, removed the immunity of Confederation MP Grzegorz Braun on Wednesday. The Warsaw District Prosecutor’s Office intends to press seven charges against him, related to incidents spanning 2022-2023. Notably, this includes the extinguishing of Hanukkah candles in the Sejm with a fire extinguisher.

The motion to strip the Confederation politician of his immunity was presented during the session by the Warsaw District Prosecutor, Mariusz Dubowski.

Dubowski mentioned that the Warsaw District Prosecutor’s Office had conducted a preliminary investigation that “sufficiently justifies the suspicion of the commission of a crime by MP Grzegorz Braun.” He also noted that the charges against Braun include property damage, bodily harm, and desecration of religious objects.

Braun contends that the charges against him contain “clear and obvious insinuations and counterfactual statements, inconsistent with reality or material truth.” He argued that the materials in the motion include “fabricated quotes and confabulations” and that some of the alleged actions did not occur, as can be determined from audio/video recordings.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Justice’s press office last week, upon lifting his immunity, prosecutors plan to charge Braun with offenses including: “bodily harm to Łukasz Szumowski” (former Polish health minister), defamation through mass media, “damage to a Christmas tree” and “desecration of a religious object and offending a group of people in the Sejm.”

Braun’s proceedings gained widespread attention when, on Dec. 12 last year, he extinguished lit Hanukkah candles during a ceremony in the Sejm using a fire extinguisher.

Sejm Speaker Szymon Hołownia excluded Braun from the sessions and announced plans to file a lawsuit against him, including for disrupting a religious ceremony. Hołownia also declared that the Sejm Presidium punished Braun by cutting half of his salary for three months and his entire allowance for six months.

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