Czech court sends local politician to prison for 7.5 years for drug offense
On 24 January the Ústecký Regional Court sentenced Marcel Cichý, an independent city assembly member in Trmice, Ústecký Region, Czech Republic, to 7.5 years in prison for organizing the sale of marijuana in Slovakia. This is the court's second decision in the case, and both the defendant and the state prosecutor are considering whether to appeal.
The first-instance decision gave the politician a two-year suspended sentence, but that verdict was overturned by the High Court in Prague. The new verdict has yet to take effect.
Cichý, according to the court, initiated the sale of five kilograms of marijuana to a buyer in Slovakia. The price for one kilogram of the drug was supposed to be CZK 100 000 (EUR 3 700).
The court based its ruling primarily on SMS text messages and wiretaps of communications between the defendants. The sale of 2.8 kilograms ultimately fell through, according to the court, because of disputes over the amount and quality of the drug.
While the politician initially received a probationary sentence, the High Court overturned it last summer. In its latest verdict, the Regional Court arrived at the conclusion that Cichý was a member of an organized group.
The court punished another member of that group, Ladislav Cichý, by sentencing him to 10 years in prison. In addition to arranging the sale of the marijuana, the court punished Ladislav Cichý for selling methamphetamine into Slovakia.
A third defendant, Pavel Kišše, who cultivated the marijuana to be sold, was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for five years. Marcel Cichý faced, according to the legal qualification of his actions, between 10 and 18 years in prison.
Presiding Judge Jiří Bednář justified his initially lower punishment by, among other things, arguing that Marcel Cichý had no previous criminal record, that assessments of his character were good, and that he had been involved in volunteering. The judge told the Czech News Agency that sentencing Marcel Cichý according to the statute would have been too strict.
It was also very important that the sale at issue was never actually completed. "No harmful consequences arose. What was essential to the assessment was also the fact that an accomplice of Mr Marcel Cichý who had perpetrated more extensive criminal activity, including the export of methamphetamine to Slovakia, was given the lowest possible sentence of 10 years. In such a situation, giving the same punishment to a person who had committed criminal activity of what was essentially a much smaller scope would have been disproportionate," the judge told the Czech News Agency.
Three couriers were supposed to transport the marijuana into Slovakia and then sell it, but a court in Košice there has acquitted them, although the verdict has yet to take effect. Marcel Cichý told the court that he considers the planned business deal to have been a personal failing.
He also emphasized that he backed out of the deal because of moral principle, not because of the quality of the drugs. A formerly well-liked teacher at a primary school in Trmice, he has had to leave the school system and currently makes a living as a manual laborer.
His attorney, Zdeněk Grus, sought his aquittal. "The basic reason was that this act, in my opinion, never happened. I referred to the decision-making practice of the Slovak court, which has decided to acquit the other defendants in relation to this very same act," Grus told the Czech News Agency.
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