… And Justice For All?

I got to witness my first ever court case yesterday. It was a both interesting, fascinating and physically and mentally draining ordeal. I’m sure that some of you will remember that some 18 months ago, my good buddy and distant family member Mads was pointlessly and most brutally assaulted outside Dunkel’s apartment here in Kolding. It’s a case that has touched and shocked a lot of people and taken it’s strain on quite a lot of people as well. I’ve promised to keep a lot of you updated on the situation, so I’ll try to do just that.

Yesterday was the first day of the court case against Mads’ assailant. The case was scheduled for three days, but as the perpetrator was to plead guilty to most charges, it was rescheduled for a single day, that is yesterday (Monday), with the final ruling falling on next Friday. Since I’ve been pretty emotionally involved in the whole thing and have spend a lot of time worrying and trying to come to some understanding of the whole ordeal, I naturally wanted to be present during the court proceedings, not only to show my support for Mads, but also to try and gain some understanding and closure in this whole meaningless ordeal. Also present were Mads’ parents, a few family members of his as well as Iben and Under, good friends of mine and Mads’ as well.

We arrived at the court at around 9 AM and were placed in the back of the court, some five meters from the accused who was placed in the witness stand in the middle of the room.. Being placed so close to the guy was nowhere near an enjoyable experience and a pretty messed up feeling to say the least. But I digress. The proceedings kicked off with the reading of the accusations against the accused and the intend of the case. Accusations included violent assault, violent assault of a particularly raw, dangerous and brutal character and  violent robbery of personal items. The intend of the State prosecutor was listed as seeking a fitting prison sentence followed by immediate deportation from the Kingdom of Denmark and permanent denial of reentry. (the perpetrator was of Somalian descent). The perpetrator pleaded guilty to both counts of violent assault and not guilty to the count of robbery, also he objected to the deportation.

After these formalities, the State prosecutor laid out the entire case including forensic evidence, reports from rescue personnel on the scene, statements from doctors involved, etc.. The scene painted was pretty familiar and pretty horrifying. Rescue services were called at around 5:30 AM Saturday morning and arrived on the scene to find Mads lying unresponsive with troubled breathing in a 60 x 80 cm pool of his own blood. I’ll spare you the even more morbid details, but suffice to say that he was rushed to the hospital, had brief respiratory stop along the way and slipped into a coma where he remained for several days. Forensic analysis at the crime scene and solid police work during Saturday morning lead to the identification and arrest of the perpetrator who turned out to be the boyfriend of the girl who alarmed rescue services in the first place. He was arrested on account of being in possession of some of Mads’ personal items, as well as the fact that his shoes tested positive for blood and that traces of blood were found in the apartment in which he is staying. Furthermore, later medical examinations showed bruises and wounds on his hands and arms consistent with those that would be left after such a violent act.

The prosecutor then went on to describe the physical and mental damage suffered Mads, including, but not limited to, several fractions to the skull, a partially separated ear, obvious mental discomfort and permanent brain damage. This was probably the most heartbreaking part of the whole ordeal because it not only creates quite a few really uncomfortable flashbacks but also went on to remind us that following the attack, Mads will never really be the same.. As much as we are happy and lucky that, despite everything, he still has his good wits and is highly intelligent, he has been forced to give up his university studies and is no longer the mathematical genius that he was 0n account of some cognitive processes in his brain being left permanently destroyed by an utterly pointless and cruel attack.

After the entire picture had been painted, witness statements were taken. This was the part I had been looking forward to the most. It would be my chance to gain some sort of understanding of what had happened, possibly some closure as well. The first person on the stand was the accused himself. He explained that on the night in question he had been out partying, had had some beers, well, a lot of beers, smoked a few joints and taken amphetamines as well. He recalled returning home from town to his girlfriends apartment and finding Mads sleeping in the stairwell outside of Dunkel’s apartment. Upset with this fact, he started shaking Mads who after a few shakes stirred briefly, muttered something which the perpetrator took to be insulting at which point he, in his own words, snapped and just start punching away. There were some confusion as to how many punches were thrown and whether he kicked, stomped or jumped on Mads’ head as well, but as I understood it, he eventually admited to more than ten punches to the face and up to three kicks. He then went to his apartment, spent some time calming down, then eventually returned to check on Mads, found him unresponsive, woke up his girlfriend and had her phone for an ambulance.

Other witnesses statements included paramedics and the perpetrators girlfriend who had nothing much to add. Mads, too, took the stand and obviously couldn’t tell anything about the episode itself but did shed some light on his life following the incident, as did one if his doctors.

After all witness statements had been taken, we had lunch which was actually the most enjoyable part of the experience. Mads’ family had brought sandwiches and sodas which were enjoyed by the entourage over a nice long chat about everything and nothing.

After lunch, we returned to the court room for the last couple of hours. The details of the case and the event that morning having already been more or less established, the last hours were spent by the prosecutor and the defense attorney discussing legal precedence in order to establish how long the perpetrator should be incarcerated and whether or not there were sufficient grounds for deportation. Actually a pretty interesting discussion that was, sadly, inherently difficult to follow as it’s been about ten years since I last dealt with any kinds of legal talk.. What I managed to make out was that the state prosecutor pushed for at least 5-6 years of prison followed by deportation and permanent denial of reentry. The defense attorney called these demands way out of proportion and argued that 2 years and nine months to 3 years would be a much more fitting time frame while, naturally, categorically refusing the thought of deportation..

And that’s about where it all ended for the day. With the proceedings having lasted from about 9 AM till close to 4 PM, it left no time for the judges to congregate and come up with a final verdict and suitable punishment. Thus, final sentencing was postponed till this coming Friday at 1 PM. This postponement was very disheartening to some members of Mads’ family, indeed to most of us though, of course, it took the greatest toll on those close to him. It’s kinda hard to have sat through such a long ordeal only to be told that you’ll have to wait almost a week for the court to make up their mind. It’s totally fair, of course, this is a very serious case, a lot of factors need considering and there’s the whole integrity of the justice system to consider as well.. It can’t be rushed in any way or the other.. But five days is a long wait for the final step in a long, emotionally scarring process.. But if that’s the way it’s gonna be, then that’s the way it’s gonna be..

I for one am completely drained from the experience and looking forward to Friday where the last few words in this dreadful saga will hopefully be written..

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