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Warsaw. A tragic accident for Socrates. Cassation of the prosecutor's office

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The prosecutor's office's cassation appeal regarding the verdict following the fatal accident on Sokratesa Street was submitted to the Supreme Court. Investigators maintain that the pedestrian did not contribute to the tragedy, but they withdraw the postulate that it was a murder. How do they argue this?

The incident occurred on October 20, 2019. 33-year-old Adam was crossing the crossing in Bielany with his wife and three-year-old son. They were going to the park. It was Sunday – an October but sunny morning. He died before their eyes. Krystian O. drove his orange BMW definitely too fast. He could drive along Sokratesa Street at a maximum speed of 50 km/h. He was driving two and a half times faster.

The prosecutor's office first charged him with causing an accident, but shortly afterwards decided that it was too mild a charge. Krystian O. was charged with murder committed with so-called potential intent. The trial before the court of first instance ended in November 2021. The District Court in Warsaw sentenced Krystian O. to seven years and 10 months in prison, changing the legal classification of the act from murder to causing an accident with a fatal result. More than three years after the pedestrian's death, in mid-March this year, a final judgment was issued. The Court of Appeal in Warsaw reduced the sentence to seven years and six months in prison.

Then the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw applied to the Prosecutor General to file an extraordinary cassation appeal against Krystian O. Investigators then pointed out that ultimately the driver was convicted of causing a fatal accident, and not, as they requested, for murder with possible intent (which was punishable by life imprisonment). They also drew attention to the justification for the court's judgment, which also indicated that a pedestrian contributed to the accident.

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Now, as we have found out, the cassation appeal has already been submitted to the court. However, the General Prosecutor's Office withdrew from one of the demands of the Regional Prosecutor's Office. We found a letter explaining why.

Read also >>> Can an accident be a homicide? “Stretching the law.” The prosecutor's office does not give up

According to the prosecutor's office, the pedestrian was not at fault “in any way”

As we read in the letter sent to the deceased's family by the prosecutor's office, investigators before the Supreme Court will try to prove that the pedestrian did not contribute to the accident.

Because the appellate court ruled that, while driving a BMW, the defendant, traveling at a speed of approximately 126.5 km/h, i.e. exceeding the permissible speed by more than 75 km/h, caused an accident. In turn, the injured Adam G. – so the judges found – by not being particularly careful when crossing the road, he contributed only to a small extent to the tragedy.

How? The judges of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw, composed of Sławomir Machnio (chairman, rapporteur judge), Przemysław Filipkowski and Piotr Bojarczuk, described it in the written justification of the judgment as follows: “Exercising special caution at a pedestrian crossing means, first of all, the need for the pedestrian to observe the section of the road through which he is crossing. “.

The adjudicating panel assessed that Adam G. should “increase attention and adapt his behavior to changing conditions and situations on the road to the extent that allows him to react quickly enough. Before entering the road, he should assess the situation, remembering at the same time the obligations arising from Article 14 current [Prawo o ruchu drogowym – red.]. Pedestrians should also take into account the speed of vehicles on the road,” we read in the justification.

Moreover, the court found that the pedestrian had “the opportunity to notice a car driven by the accused approaching him, distinguished not only by its very aggressive driving style, but also by its bright color.” According to the judges, Adam G. should have heard the speeding BMW. To confirm this thesis, he cited the testimony of one of the witnesses.

“In the extraordinary appeal, an attempt was made to demonstrate the incorrectness of this finding, proving that the injured party did not contribute in any way to the incriminated event,” the prosecutor's office now claims.

He didn't want to kill because he was making defensive maneuvers

Moreover, according to the letter we obtained, the prosecutor's office will not want to prove in the Supreme Court that Socrates was murdered.

“Although there is no doubt that the perpetrator grossly violated a number of road traffic rules and drove at a dangerous speed in the center of a busy district, the assumption that he agreed to take the lives of other road users is not supported by the collected evidence,” the prosecutor's office explains.

“The lack of this type of intention is evidenced in particular by the fact that he undertook defensive maneuvers and it was not only a reflex action. As the Court of Appeal aptly noted, even if the accused acted reflexively at the first moment, he later continued defensive maneuvers in order to avoid hitting the pedestrian.” – added the investigators.

This is a big twist in the case, because the prosecutor's office, almost from the beginning of the proceedings, was of the opinion that Krystian O. should be held accountable for the murder. Investigators argued that he must have taken into account that driving at such a high speed in a built-up area could kill him.

Proc. Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, then spokeswoman for the Regional Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw, explained when announcing the cassation in this case in our pages: – The driver's instinctive defensive maneuver, as indicated by the court of appeal, does not in any case exclude acting with possible intention, especially taking into account additional circumstances surrounding the incident, such as driving a vehicle in a condition that does not allow it to be used for traffic, awareness of the introduced design changes or grossly exceeding the speed limit in a place where there are marked pedestrian crossings every few dozen meters. Krystian O. anticipated the possibility of killing a person and agreed to it.

“A manifestation of the search for opportunities to punish the perpetrator more severely”

The courts of both instances found the accused guilty only of causing a fatal accident. Prof. Ryszard Stefański, head of the Department of Criminal Law at Lazarski University, former prosecutor and specialist, among others, in the field of road traffic offences, he was not surprised by this. – Qualifying fatal events occurring in road traffic as a result of a gross violation of traffic safety rules is a manifestation of the search for the possibility of more severe punishment of the perpetrator in media cases. Such conduct is a clear “stretching of the law”, which is difficult to accept in a democratic state ruled by law, he said.

We have written several times that specialists are calling for changes and the introduction of separate crimes into the code. For example, in Italy, where the penalty for causing a fatal accident is a minimum of eight years in prison and a maximum of 12 years, or if more than one person dies – 18 years.

Main photo source: tvn24



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