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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Polish Oscar-winner faces trial
Lew Rywin
Lew Rywin is said to have offered to intervene with ministers
A producer of the Oscar-winning films Schindler's List and The Pianist has been charged with corruption, the latest twist in a scandal which has thrown the government into turmoil.

Prosecutors say Lew Rywin solicited a $17.5m bribe from a newspaper publisher, promising to lobby the government for favourable media laws in return.

The affair also embroiled senior members of the government and Prime Minister Leszek Miller is now said to be facing a separate investigation into what he knew.

Correspondents say the renewed attention comes at a particularly unwelcome time for the government, which would prefer to be celebrating the results of a referendum which will take Poland into the European Union rather than mired in a corruption scandal.

Ownership laws

Mr Rywin, 58, is alleged to have sought the multi-million-dollar payment from Agora SA, which publishes the Gazeta Wyborcza daily newspaper as well as owning several radio stations.

The indictment is based on undeniable proof that we obtained in questioning over 70 witnesses
Zygmunt Kapusta,
Investigator

The paper reported last December that Mr Rywin told its officials that he represented Mr Miller and "a group holding power".

The alleged bribe attempt came five months earlier when a proposed media bill was being considered which could have restricted private ownership of television and radio stations.

The chief appeals prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Zygmunt Kapusta, said a strong case had been compiled against Mr Rywin.

"The indictment is based on undeniable proof that we obtained in questioning over 70 witnesses," he said.

Wrongdoing denied

Among those questioned was Prime Minister Miller, whose testimony was showed live on television.

Leszek Miller
Public interest was so intense that Mr Miller's testimony was broadcast
The Associated Press news agency quoted Mr Kapusta as saying a separate investigation has been launched into Mr Miller.

He is accused of failing to report the alleged bribe attempt as required by law when he was told of it by the chief editor of the Gazeta Wyborcza.

Mr Miller has denied any involvement in the alleged scheme.

Mr Rywin, whose passport has been confiscated, also denies any wrongdoing.

His Heritage Films company co-produced the Holocaust films The Pianist, which won three Academy Awards this year, and Schindler's List which took the best film Oscar in 1993.




SEE ALSO:
Polish PM holds firm under fire
28 Apr 03  |  Europe
Polish PM denies corruption
26 Apr 03  |  Europe
Poland gripped by 'bribery' row
01 Apr 03  |  Europe



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