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Czech Police not yet ruling out possible suicide in judge's death

Ostrava, 9.7.2012 19:53, (ROMEA)
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Detectives investigating the death of Miloslav Studnička, a judge at the Regional Court in Ostrava who was found dead at his summer cottage today, are discussing the possibility that the judge might have committed suicide. Police President Petr Lessy says police have not yet decided which version of the cause of the judge's death is more likely, suicide or a violent homicide. "Detectives are investigating the crime scene now," he told the Czech Press Agency. Czech Television reported the judge was found with his throat cut.

Regional State Prosecutor Brigita Bilíková, who worked with Studnička on the Vítkov arson case, told the Czech Press Agency that she only learned of the judge's death this morning. "I heard just a few minutes ago, this is really breaking news. I don't know what to say. I am terribly sorry to hear it," she said.

Bilíková did not want to speculate as to whether the judge's death is related to one of Studnička's cases or the Vítkov scandal in particular. "I believe and I hope this is not related to Vítkov," she told the Czech Press Agency.

Human rights activist Kumar Vishwanathan, who assisted the victims of the Vítkov arson attack, shares that view. "I believe it's unrelated. It's terrible news. At the time, that verdict was really a breakthrough. It was a key decision that showed the justice system in this state works, that it is not subordinate to political pressure or public opinion. It confirmed that there is a group of judges and state prosecutors here who work on the basis of the law, not on the basis of pressure, and Judge Studnička was one of them," said Vishwanathan.

Judge Studnička ruled on the Vítkov case in October 2010, handing down sentences of either 20 or 22 years to the arsonists. "I hope there is some other cause for this tragic event. If he was murdered because of his work as a judge, it would be a tragedy and a great loss for the Czech justice system," Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blažek (Civic Democrats - ODS) told reporters today.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Zdeněk Ryšavý, Czech Press Agency, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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