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Bialystok. Murder at Lake Zelwa. The instigator of the crime got a life sentence. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal

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A 50-year-old man was accused of initiating a crime that took place in 2000 on Lake Zelwa near Sejny (Podlaskie Voivodship), where a group of men killed a 34-year-old friend. Then they cut off his head and hid his body. In the first instance, the 50-year-old was sentenced to 25 years in prison, in the second instance he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Now the Supreme Court has dismissed the cassation of the judgment, deeming it manifestly unfounded.

– The authors of the cassation saw it as an ordinary means of appeal and tried to persuade the Supreme Court to adjudicate at the third instance – said Supreme Court judge Andrzej Tomczyk in justifying the dismissal of the cassation, recognizing it as obviously groundless.

The cassation was filed by the defenders of a 50-year-old man sentenced to life imprisonment for the imprisonment and then murder with particular cruelty of his friend.

The Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeal (illustration photo) TVN24

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They handcuffed him and tied him to a tree

The crime took place in June 2000 on Lake Zelwa near Sejny. A group of men were drinking alcohol there by the fire. They brought the later murder victim, a 34-year-old friend, to the scene. They handcuffed him, tied him to a tree and began beating him, which lasted for several hours. In the opinion of forensic medicine experts, these were blows delivered not only with hands and feet, but also, for example, with a stick or a board. Finally, he was beaten twice, stabbed with a sharp object, most likely a knife, which ended in death.

After the victim’s death, the perpetrators moved the body to another location, cut off the head with an ax and hid the body in two different places to make it difficult to identify them.

He was in a French prison. In 2021, he went to Poland

Suspected of initiating this crime, a now 50-year-old man was in hiding, he was wanted by the European Arrest Warrant. In 2003, the French police detained him in connection with a murder committed in that country. After the sentence, he was in a French prison before being deported to Poland in mid-2021.

SEE ALSO: He was to kill Maksymilian and torment Lenka. New evidence in the case

Here, the Suwałki district prosecutor’s office charged him with deprivation of liberty, beatings and murder with particular cruelty. In December 2021, an invalid sentence of 25 years in prison was passed before the District Court in Suwałki. It was a joint punishment for deprivation of liberty, beatings and homicide with particular cruelty, committed jointly and in agreement with other people who had already been tried years ago.

An appeals court commuted the 25-year sentence to life imprisonment

Two of them were convicted for participation in murder to 25 years in prison, the other two – for participation in imprisonment and beating – to seven and six years in prison. In the case of the defendant recognized as the instigator of this crime, a year ago The Court of Appeal in Bialystok changed the 25-year sentence to life imprisonment. He assumed that the reason for the imprisonment and the murder might have been misunderstandings about some common crimes.

The appellate court agreed with the prosecutor’s assessment that 25 years in prison could be considered a grossly lenient sentence in this case. He drew attention not only to the circumstances of the crime, but also to the fact that the defendant fled to France, where he also committed the murder, and while serving his sentence there – he committed several more crimes, including violent crimes. The court of appeal decided that with such a high degree of demoralization of a brutal and unpredictable person, for whom human life has no value, there is no question of any social rehabilitation.

Defense attorneys said the courts were “prejudiced” against their client

In the cassation appeal, which the Supreme Court dismissed on Wednesday, the defenders argued that the fact that the other participants of the meeting at the campfire had been convicted earlier meant that the courts during the trial of the main defendant were already – as the lawyers put it – “prejudiced”.

Read also: The woman disappeared almost 23 years ago. The police arrested her husband

– Participants of the outbreak were convicted (…), but the court did not derive any negative consequences for Witold Z from this fact. The courts relied on the explanations and testimonies of participants in these events, and this evidence was used to make findings – judge Tomczyk noted.

He added that although during the proceedings in this case the man was in a French prison, all the most important evidence was taken before the court of first instance in his presence, he could refer to them and use the assistance of a defense lawyer.

The murder took place at Lake Zelwa

Main photo source: TVN24

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