WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Police raided the offices of the Center for Monitoring Racist and Xenophobic Behavior in Warsaw as part of a fraud investigation.
The search Friday came at the request of the Bialystok prosecutor’s office as part of its probe into fraud, counterfeiting of documents and other offenses, Lukasz Janyst, a spokesman for prosecutors in Bialystok, told reporters.
The anti-racism center said on Facebook that it operates legally and accused Poland of “turning into a police state.”
Janyst said the investigation involved the theater opened by the center.
“This is an attempt to intimidate a nongovernmental organization,” said Konrad Dulkowski, a member of the audit committee of the Association of Trzyrzecze Theatre, in an interview with the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.
Police also raided the homes of some of the board members, and reportedly seized computers and cellphones.
According to the official database of NGO organizations, the Trzyrzecze Theatre board has only one member, Rafal Piotr Gawel, who was sentenced last July to four years in prison for fraud. Gawel has appealed; his case started last week. The next hearing before the appellate court will take place on March 6.
The investigation, which spurred the search on Friday, started as a result of new information that came out during the trial in the district court.
“The Prosecutor’s Office in Bialystok is leading an investigation into the falsification of dozens of documents, making a series of scams and attempted scams that took place in connection with the activities of the Association of Trzyrzecze Theatre based in Warsaw,” and previously based in Bialystok, Janyst said in a statement.
Dulkowski in an interview with Gazeta Wyborcza said the association’s debt is due to the revoking of a grant by the Bialystok City Council. The Bialystokonline.pl website reported that the judgment was based on the fact that Gawel “took loans, despite the fact that he realized that the collectability of receivables was small.”
According to the database of NGOs, Trzyrzecze Theater also has tax arrears.
The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, which has cooperated with the center since November, has not issued a statement on the matter.