A driver unconscious, or a driver without conscience?

Anyone living in Slovakia (and before I would have said just Bratislava, but this is no longer true) must be well aware of the number of truly arrogant drivers on Slovak roads. Saying that, I guess this is not only a Slovak phenomenon in the modern world, as people push each other aside and rush to make their next dollar. This more often than not eventually leads to a tragedy, but usually it is not the culprit who suffers most, or who is willing to take the responsibility for their actions.

Some would say that the case of former TV Markiza presenter, Rastislav Zitny, could be classed as such, as his lawyer turned a simple case into a drawn-out episode of excuses and appeals in an attempt to ‘free’ his client of the burden of blame. Among other things, they claimed that he had suddenly passed out as he fled round a bend, using a similar case in the UK as reference. He was, however, finally sentenced yesterday to two and a half years in prison. A sentence befitting the crime?

Zitny was found guilty of manslaughter of a five year-old child, as he ploughed through him, his father and brother on their bikes while driving at excessive speed along a country road near Rohoznik (Malacky Distrct) back in June 2008. The sentence was pronounced in the absence of the accused and reaffirmed a previous verdict from the trial last year.

The verdict of the court also banned him from driving for five years, but this is not yet effective because under the law the former presenter has 15 days to lodge another appeal in the hope of avoiding his sentence in a detention facility.

According to the indictment, Zitny was driving at a speed of 142 mph while talking on the phone, as his car veered out of lane and into the unsuspecting, and now devastated, family. Zitny (who was 31 at the time of the accident) was seriously injured and remained in an artificially induced coma for some time after the accident.

Several witnesses and experts were heard during the court proceedings, which had caught the attention of the media and the Slovak public. Zitny has always argued that the incident was unintentional and was caused by a temporary blackout. In previous cases of TV personalities taking someone’s life on the rods, they have normally walked free, and only time will tell if the Slovak ‘justice’ system will hold out or crash once again.

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