A former minister and his aide temporarily evaded arrest by fleeing to the Poland presidency Tuesday, highlighting the turmoil roiling the country after pro-EU parties won power from populists last year.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk's pro-EU government took over in December in the EU and NATO member nation, after eight years of rule by the right-wing, nationalist-populist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Since then, the new government has clashed on several issues with Polish President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the previous administration.

In the latest episode, two deputies on Tuesday took refuge at the presidential residence for several hours to avoid arrest after a court conviction.

The men are Mariusz Kaminski, who was the interior minister in the ousted government, and his close associate Maciej Wasik.


In December, an appeals court ruled that the pair should serve two years in prison for having overstepped their authority in a case dating back to 2007, when Kaminski served as coordinator of secret services under the PiS government.

On Monday evening, a court issued an arrest warrant for them.

Both men have denied the charges and evoked a pardon that Duda granted them in 2015. That pardon, however, has been annulled by Poland's Supreme Court.

Both men were elected MPs during the October election that saw PiS lose power to a pro-EU coalition. 

But on Friday, the president of the lower house of parliament said their mandates had been annulled.

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The pair, backed by the PiS, Duda and some PiS allies in the judiciary, have refused to recognise the move.

As police arrived at their houses on Tuesday to arrest them, the two men appeared by Duda's side during a ceremony at the presidential palace.

"If we end up in prison, we will be political prisoners," Kaminski told reporters several hours later.

Police took the pair into custody later in the evening.

"Arrested in accordance with a court ruling," Czeslaw Mroczek, deputy interior minister, wrote on X, with police confirming the arrest.


Duda was not in the building during the arrest, according to local media.

Tusk, who had called the situation "unprecedented", had said earlier that no force would be used to extract the pair from the presidency, but accused "the political camp that has governed Poland for eight years" of having sparked an "unprecedented judicial chaos" in the country.

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