Protests in Poland against government judicial overhaul

Malgorzata Gersdorf said she was defending the rule of law

Malgorzata Gersdorf said she was defending the rule of law

The head of Poland's Supreme Court has vowed to defy a controversial new law forcing her and dozens of senior judges to retire early, a BBC News report said on Wednesday.

Renowned for her iron will, the blond, bespectacled 65-year-old has refused to comply with a new law that reduces the retirement age for Supreme Court judges from 70 to 65, arguing that the six-year term she is guaranteed under the constitution ends in 2020.

Gersdorf thanked the crowd and said she was acting to protect Poland's rule of law.

The forced retirements of up to 27 of 72 Supreme Court justices, including the top judge, and the creation of a judicial disciplinary chamber were the latest in a series of steps by Poland's Right-wing Law and Justice Party to take over the justice system.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, speaking at the European Parliament on Wednesday, defended the new laws and expanded on the criticism of the bloc. She was met by a wave of supporters, who chanted "constitution" - continuing the mass protests which began across many cities in Poland the previous evening. However, the Polish government is proceeding with introducing such changes to the judiciary which openly breach EU Treaties, violate the Polish Constitution and destroy court independence.

Hailing from a renowned Warsaw family with deep roots in the legal profession, Gersdorf's father Miroslaw was also a respected law professor and judge. "Given the lack of progress and the imminent implementation of the new retirement regime for supreme court judges, the Commission decided today to launch the infringement procedure as a matter of urgency", he said.

In a separate statement, the commission said it took the view "that these measures undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges".

"We are calling for the reform to be amended in line with the constitution and European standards".

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Warsaw has been trying to overhaul its judiciary and faces accusations that it has taken de facto control of the justice system in a move that the European Union says is anti democratic.

"With such an amount we will not win much", Walesa said in front of the protesters outside the Supreme Court building in the centre of Warsaw.

Gersdorf, an outspoken critic of the PiS and its reforms, said in a television interview broadcast on Tuesday that the presidential palace had invited her to a meeting with Duda at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).

PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told Gazeta Polska that Supreme Court defiance was "doomed to a disastrous defeat".

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said the law was binding and "for the time being our stance is that we are right".

An authoritarian drift that has cost Poland swingeing touches of attention of European Commission, which before sanctioning dossier for reform of justice, which can suppose even economic sanctions, had already activated against giant of East Called Article 7 of Union, nuclear button that can snatch Warsaw right to vote within EU.

Warsaw faces the threat of losing its voting rights in the bloc under a procedure launched late past year over judiciary reforms.

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