Court convicts 3 for blackmailing Polish senator

By the Associated Press | August 30, 2011 | 1:55 PM EDT

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A Polish court on Tuesday convicted three people of blackmailing Krzysztof Piesiewicz, a senator and screenwriter known internationally for collaborating on the award-winning "Three Colors" movie trilogy.

The district court of Warsaw also sentenced the two women and a man to 18 months in prison. The verdict is not final, however, and the defendants said they would appeal, the news agency PAP reported.

The verdicts in the closed-door trial came after a tabloid released video in 2009 of Piesiewicz wearing a dress and appearing to take cocaine with prostitutes. Piesiewicz has said he was not using cocaine but another powdered medication.

He has said he paid the women twice to keep the meetings secret but went to police when they demanded money a third time. Police have said he fell victim to an extortion ring.

It's not yet clear what effect the scandal might have on his political career. Previously aligned with the governing pro-market Civic Platform party, he retreated from active politics after the video was released. However, he has said he will run for re-election to the Senate in Oct. 9 elections.

Many Poles perceive Piesiewicz as being naive for allowing himself to fall into a trap set by the blackmailers. He is seen by many largely as a victim in this case, but his political fortunes could be hurt because of the perception that he was weak and gullible.

Piesiewicz collaborated with the late director Krzysztof Kieslowski on the films "The Double Life of Veronique" and the "Three Colors (Blue, White and Red)" trilogy.