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The case of the “cannibals from Lake Osiek”. The Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeals

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The Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeal in the case of the person convicted in the famous “cannibals from Lake Osiek” case. Both the defense attorney and the prosecutor filed appeals against the sentence sentencing Robert M. to 25 years in prison. The defense lawyer wanted his client to be acquitted due to the failure to establish the identity of the victim and the presence of neo-judges in the adjudicating panels. The prosecutor wanted to acknowledge complicity in the murder of all those who ate the victim's body.

On Wednesday Supreme Court issued a ruling on cassation in the famous case of “cannibals from Lake Osiek”. The cassation appeal was filed by the defense attorney of Robert M., who was sentenced to 25 years in prison and who was allegedly responsible for the murder, and the prosecutor – to the detriment of M. and the other men who allegedly ate human flesh.

The appeals concerned: rulings of the Court of Appeal in Szczecin. It upheld the judgment of the District Court, which sentenced the main defendant, Robert M., to 25 years in prison for directing the murder of a man of unknown identity 20 years ago. The court found that other defendants had desecrated the body and discontinued the proceedings due to the statute of limitations.

>> A case straight out of a horror movie. The trial of four accused of murder and “act of cannibalism” has started <<

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Defense attorney: no body, no murder

In the cassation appeal, Robert M.'s defense lawyer pointed out that the classification of murder was incorrect due to the fact that the identity of the victim had not been established. He argued in court that the crime must be committed to the detriment of a specific person. – Missing body – it happens. But in this case there is also no identity, no specific person. The appellate court did not consider this, and this is a fundamental issue, he explained.

He also pointed to other – in his opinion – factual findings that were not taken into account. – It's scary that someone can be judged and sentenced in this way – argued M.'s attorney.

Finally, he pointed to one of the potentially absolute grounds for appeal – improper composition of the court. As the attorney explained, neo-judges sat in both panels adjudicating on the cannibal case. Therefore, Robert M.'s attorney requested primarily acquittal and, alternatively, the case be reconsidered.

Court: failure to establish the victim's identity cannot release him from responsibility

Due to the complexity of the case, the Supreme Court announced its verdict only after a two-week break. He found the defender's cassation appeal to be clearly unfounded.

– The absolute ground for appeal, which would be improper composition of the courts, has not been confirmed. It is true that they were appointed by the so-called neo-KRS, but their promotion path does not indicate that it was due to political connections – explained judge rapporteur Marek Pietruszyński. In its justification, the Supreme Court analyzed in detail the professional path of the judges indicated by the author of the cassation appeal.

The Supreme Court did not share his opinion on the interpretation of criminal provisions regarding murder. – A legally protected good is human life in the existential sense. Failure to establish identity cannot release you from responsibility, said Judge Pietruszyński. He compared this interpretation to the discredited – in his opinion – old principle of Anglo-Saxon law, which did not allow conviction in the absence of a body.

Supreme CourtShutterstock

– Yes, the injured party has not been identified, and therefore the people who represent him have not been identified, but the convict's defense attorney had no legal interest in raising this, and besides, the injured party is represented by the prosecutor in the criminal trial – he explained.

The prosecutor's office demanded that all defendants be recognized as complicit

The prosecutor's office submitted its cassation appeal, demanding, among other things, recognition of complicity of all defendants in previous instances. These were Rafał O., Janusz S. and Sylwester B. The court found that they had “merely” desecrated bodies. The proceedings were discontinued due to the statute of limitations.

According to the representatives of these people, the prosecutor should have demonstrated their participation in the murder in the evidentiary proceedings in the previous instances, but he did not do so. – The events did not take place at all, they did not happen – said one of the lawyers on Wednesday. – The courts of the previous instance rightly and meticulously demonstrated that there could be no question of complicity. Complicity cannot be passive acceptance, she argued.

The Supreme Court justified the rejection of the cassation appeal in exactly the same words. – In order to constitute co-perpetration, there must be a joint performance of an act, where the perpetrators' actions complement each other – added Judge Pietrzykowski.

The case of “cannibals from Lake Osiek”

The defendants in the case were burdened primarily by the testimony of Rafał O. After several years, he told about the crime which – according to investigators – took place in 2002 at Lake Osiek in the village of Ługi (Lubusz Voivodeship). Rafał O. testified that the main accused, Robert M., first argued with a man at a restaurant in the village of Łasko, and later the man was taken to the lake. The other defendants and Zbigniew B. went there with them.

It was Zbigniew B. who allegedly slit the victim's throat and, before his death in 2017, wrote a letter confessing his crime. The letter was handed over to investigators.

Watch TVN's “Notes” material: They killed and ate a man? “I know someone is framing dad”

In September 2021, the district court found that Robert M. “directed the execution of the prohibited act” – he ordered Zbigniew B. to kill the man with the words: “you know what to do.” He cut the victim's throat and then cut off the man's head with a knife. Robert M., Zbigniew B. and the other men – as the court found – then desecrated the victim's body: they ate several parts of the dead man's body after roasting them on a fire. It was supposed to be a kind of pact of silence so that no one present would reveal information about the event.

On Wednesday, on the occasion of the cassation appeal, the judge-rapporteur pointed out that calling these acts a “cannibal case” is – in his opinion – not consistent with the criminological literature on the subject. This one mentions cannibalism on a sadistic-sexual or psychotic basis, as an imaginary act of defense or for domination. Cases such as those in Osiek are not classified as cannibalism.

Robert M. and Zbigniew B. packed the body of the killed man with a stone in foil, sailed out to the lake on the pontoon they had brought with them and threw it into the water. He has not been found to this day and the identity of the victim has not been established.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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