Trial about bunch of grapes ends after seven years
Precisely seven years after two Pruszków psychiatrist had been detained pending trial, the Warsaw Circuit Court discontinued the proceedings against Urszula L. citing the negligible social harm presented by the alleged offences. The Court also affirmed the lower instance’s acquittal of other defendant, Andrzej S. The judgement is final.
Let us remind our readers that in March 2004 the prosecution indicted Urszula L., then head of a department at the psychiatric hospital in Pruszków, of preparing a false medical evaluation of G. thereby obstructing the criminal proceedings conducted against him. According to prosecutors, in return the defendant was to accept “an antique work of art” worth 800 zlotys (approx. 200 Euro). Andrzej S. has been accused of accepting 500 zlotys (approx. 125 Euro) for granting a hospital leave to the patient.
Both defendants spent nine months in pre-trial detention. In the course of the seven-year long proceedings, the gravity of charges brought against the doctors was gradually reduced. The case was heard twice by the District Court in Pruszków; during the first trial the defence showed that the conclusions of the L’s opinion were in fact true while during the re-trial the court estimated the value of “the antique work” at 45 zlotys (approx. 11 Euro). Still, in May 2012 the District Court in Pruszków found Urszula L. guilty of bribery and handed down a custodial sentence of six months subject to a two year probation. In the same judgment, the Court acquitted Andrzej S.
On appeal, the Circuit Court wholly dismissed the prosecution’s argument that the facts of the case had not been properly explained by the trial court. The appellate court held that the prosecution had had sufficient time to file motions for additional evidence-taking in the case.
Interestingly enough, the second-instance court did not subscribe to assertions of Urszula L. counsel, Mr Radosław Baszuk, who argued no offence on the part of the defendant, claiming that she accepted a figurine of a low artistic or material value merely as a token of gratitude and offered no promises of decisions or actions favourable to the patient in return. That, according to defence counsel, constituted a textbook example of a defence of custom and practice. “Nevertheless, the court held that a custom of offering gifts to medical doctors who receive remuneration for their work could not be accepted”, explains Maria Ejchart, a lawyer with the HFHR.
During the appeal hearing, judges have examined “the antique work of art” given to Urszula L.
“The judgment of the Warsaw Circuit Court ends the case and gives the accused doctors an opportunity for claiming compensation for manifestly unjustified pre-trial detention. However, it is hardly understandable why the justice system needed as much time as seven years to finally decide that there is no point in prosecuting a doctor who had accepted a worthless gift”, says Ms Ejchart.
The doctors’ case was handled as part of the “Innocence” Programme. The HFHR acted as a community representative in the proceedings.