Case Studies

Maciej Dobrowolski: 40 months in pre-trial detention


Maciej Dobrowolski, a Polish national, was arrested in May 2012 and charged with being part of a drug trafficking ring from the Netherlands to Poland, accused of trafficking over 700 kilograms of marijuana. He spent 40 months in pre-trial detention.

The crown witness’s testimony was the only evidence used for Maciej’s detention. Maciej’s release on bail was only gained after widespread public protest, and a social media campaign which even attracted the attention of the president, Andrzej Duda.

Maciej was transferred to other prisons in his time in detention – firstly from Warsaw to Radom, over 100 kilometers south of Warsaw, and then to Gdansk, over 400 kilometers north of Warsaw. The transfer to Gdansk was stipulated as being for Maciej’s medical issue concerning his leg, however he remained there for three months, and this caused great difficulties in seeing his family.

Maciej’s remand was extended multiple times, and he received the news by letter, although he stated that once he heard about his continued detention by radio before he received the letter.

Maciej’s situation shows a prime example of the repeat ‘rubber stamping’ of repeat remand requests, without proper assessment of the need for pre-trial detention. This case is also an example of a lack of evidence to warrant pre-trial detention; the only evidence being the crown witness’s testimony.

Excessive length of pre-trial detention is a systemic problem in Poland. Only 3% of defendants succeed in seeking a review of their detention.