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Amicus curiae brief in case of train driver

In mid-August a train derailed near Piotrków Trybunalski, central Poland. One person died and more than eighty others were injured in the crash. By order of the District Court in Piotrków Trybunalski, the train driver who had been in charge of the locomotive was remanded in custody pending trial.

The counsel for the defendant appealed against the court’s decision. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights filed an amicus curiae brief with the court which heard the appeal.

One of the grounds for imposing the pre-trial detention given by the court was the risk of the obstruction of the course of justice related to the defendant’s not guilty plea. The HFHR finds the above argument to be insufficient and contrary to the basic norms of applying preventive measures. The HFHR believes that entering a not guilty plea is one of the primary rights of the suspect in a criminal case and cannot bear any negative consequences for him or her. Furthermore, the Penal Execution Code stipulates that the prosecution must present detailed evidence to satisfy the court that there is the threat that the defendant may endeavour to obstruct the pre-trial investigation. In the Foundation’s opinion, no such evidence has been brought before the District Court in Piotrków Trybunalski.

On Wednesday, 31 August, the Circuit Court in Piotrków Trybunalski revoked the detention order and set bail at PLN 10,000.

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