Slovakia: Punishment for shooter of three Romani victims called absurdly low
The sentence of nine years in prison and an order to undergo psychiatric treatment handed down by a court in Slovakia against municipal police officer Milan Juhász, who shot dead three people and injured two others in Hurbanovo last year, has prompted much reaction. The defendant originally faced the possibility of life in prison, but the judges chose a lighter sentence for him at the suggestion of the prosecutor and after experts testified that he had not been completely sane when he committed the shooting. The verdict has taken effect, as neither side has appealed.
"The Romani Union Party sharply protests the nine-year sentence for the shooter from Urbanovo [sic], Milan Juhász, who committed a triple murder and seriously injured two people. The party cannot agree with the court's findings and there is no excuse for this behavior with respect to protecting public order and the residents of the town. The psychiatrist did not unequivocally testify that Milan Juhász was incapable of telling right from wrong when he committed this crime. As a member of the municipal police, he had previously undergone psychological testing and knew what legal procedures he could have used to settle any dispute he had with troubled residents. He did not deny that he committed premeditated murder, and his confession was evidence of the fact that he recalls his actions very well and therefore knew what he was doing. We disagree with this absurdly low sentence, as well as with the fact that he will be under protective supervision for three years only, and we consider this sentence disproportionate to the seriousness of this crime, which we believe was racially motivated. Experts have even claimed that they cannot rule out the notion that he might repeat this behavior, so this person decidedly does not belong at large until the end of his life," said František Tanko, chair of the Romani Union Party in Slovakia (Strana romské unie na Slovensku).
According to psychologist Róbert Máthý, a detention center would be an ideal place for Juhász. However, there is still no such facility in Slovakia.
"There is no doubt that this person needs psychiatric treatment. In my view, that is even more important than punishing him. Since that kind of treatment takes a long time and the patient must be tested to make sure it really has had an effect, a certain detention period would be appropriate," Máthý told news server Aktuálně.sk.
"Any attempt to compare the lengths of sentences for completely different criminal cases runs the risk of ending very badly, but there are moments when one cannot help oneself," commentator Roman Pataja wrote in the daily SME. "In October 2012 a court in Považská Bystřica sentenced a 19-year-old first-time offender to 12 years in prison for kicking a policewoman in the knee and attacking two other people while drunk (the sentence has not yet taken effect). If, purely theoretically, we believe that sentence was proportionate, what are we to make of the verdict in the trial of the police officer Milan Juhász?"
"The quasi-expert evaluation provided by the psychiatrist and psychologist did not sound reliable, because according to the law on the police corps, all police officers must pass capacity tests to perform their jobs. This inadequately low, stupid sentence is an encouragement to everyone who sets their heart on taking the law into their own hands and then being declared insane afterward with the help of psychiatrists and psychologists," said Václav Kappel, chair of the Romani Initiative of Slovakia (Romská iniciativa Slovenska.
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