WARSAW, Poland - Polish prosecutors have decided not to charge a Roman Catholic priest accused of making anti-Semitic comments, and the country's Jewish community on Friday called the decision a setback.
The Warsaw-based Jewish community accused the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk of calling Jews greedy and saying that his country's president was subservient to Jewish lobbyists. A recording of the purported remarks surfaced last year.
The group had asked prosecutors in the city of Torun to bring criminal charges against the priest. But prosecutors said in a statement Thursday that they would not pursue the case due to what they said was a lack of evidence of wrongdoing. They refused any further comment.
Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious communities, expressed disappointment at the prosecutors' decision, calling it a lost chance for the Polish state to firmly show that anti-Semitism would not be tolerated.
Rydzyk has frequently been accused of fomenting anti-Semitism through his politically influential, ultra-Catholic radio station, Radio Maryja. He has rejected accusations of anti-Semitism and said that the recording was doctored.
The group says Rydzyk made the remarks in April 2007 during a lecture at a journalism school in Torun. A recording of the speech was obtained by weekly magazine Wprost and published widely in the media, sparking outrage among Israelis and Jewish groups.
The recording includes statements critical of President Lech Kaczynski's role in the awarding of state compensation - some of it to Jews - for property nationalized by the post-World War II communist government.
Other statements on the recording target the president for donating land for a future Jewish museum during his previous job as Warsaw mayor and accuse him of bowing to pressure from Jewish groups.
You know that it's about Poland giving 65 billion dollars to the Jews, the recording, purportedly of Rydzyk, says. They will come to you and say: give me your coat. Take off your pants. Give me your shoes.
The Israeli ambassador to Poland, David Peleg, called it the worst case of anti-Jewish language Poland has seen since an anti-Semitic campaign in 1968.
Rydzyk did not deny giving the speech, but said the tapes were doctored - without specifying which parts of his speech might have been altered. He also rejected accusations of anti-Semitism and said he didn't intend to offend anyone.
Rydzyk was also accused of referring to the leading Polish daily, Gazeta Wyborcza, whose founder, Adam Michnik, has Jewish roots, as a Talmudic publication.
Prosecutors had previously decided against investigating Rydzyk over the alleged remarks last August after earlier complaints.