Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Self defence clause to be put into penal code

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Piotr J. is innocent of murder after shooting someone breaking into his house, the government wants a change in the penal code to protect those acting in self defence.

Victims of assaults who killed their attackers in self-defense will probably be able to avoid going on trial.

At present, it can take years before their innocence is proved by court.

Yesterday the Supreme court declared Piotr J., who in September 2005 shot a man trying to break into his house, not guilty. His trial lasted three years in total.

This is why the Ministry of Justice announced plans to amend the Polish penal code in order to protect people acting in self-defence, making it possible for prosecutors to discontinue proceedings against a person at the investigation stage, without taking them to court. This way the procedure would last a couple of months, instead of a couple of years.

Penal law experts vary in their opinion concerning the amendment. While some praise it for protecting those who take necessary action when their lives are in danger, others point out that in such grave matters prosecutors will be reluctant to rely on their own moral judgement, and would rather write an indictment and forward the case to a court anyway than discontinue proceedings.