Latest outcome of a court saga

That is part of the outrageous outcome of the widely discussed trial of Maxim Staviski,  who in August 2007 caused a road accident where a young man was killed and a young girl was left in a humiliating state of incapacity for the rest of her life,  at least so far. The latest court decision became the reason for the present article. Here is the decision, as reflected in Bulgarian media.

Here is a brief synopsis of the event and what happened in the following years:  At around 19:45 h.  in the evening of 5th August 2007,  near the river of Ropotamo (south Black sea coast in Bulgaria) Staviski (who at the time was the advertisement face of BTV’s campaign entitled “If you have drunk,  get off –  I want to end this journey alive”)  was driving his Hummer (a present for the world champion in figure ice-skating)  over the speed limit and after drinking alcohol (test result –  1.1‰, at 0.5‰ permitted by the law).  As a result of the accident,  23-year-old Petar Petrov from Sliven died,  and Manuela Gorsova,  18 at that time,  remained in a state of coma.  At the end of January 2008 the Court in Burgas announced its decision –  2.5 years of suspended sentence with 5 years period of probation and 4 years deprivation of his driving rights,  where the penalty for such cases provisioned by the law is between 3 and 12 years of effective imprisonment.  Mr. Staviski’s defendants requested the so-called summary proceeding,  for which the court needed to sentence below the statutory period.  As per the court decision,  Mr. Staviski had to pay compensation to the families of the two victims –  BGN 90.000 to Petar Petrov’s parents and BGN 80.000 to Manuela Gorsova’s parents. Information: here.  [In Bulgarian]

Next year,  the Appellate Court in Burgas and then the Supreme Court of Cassation changed the ruling to a certain extend,  slightly increasing the sum of money the athlete had to pay to the victims’  families (here).  [In English.]

And now,  we are presented with the latest judicial masterpiece of a decision –  the victim of a crime (not alleged,  at that,  mind you)  is sentenced to pay the trial costs,  because the court sentenced against her family’s claim demanding that the insurer of Mr.  Staviski pay their daughter compensation for her injury and continuing treatment.  The court’s motives are that the family paid for the victim’s treatment in Israel with money from donations.  In everyday discourse,  that sounds like a popular phrase of a literary character inhabiting the early independent years of Bulgaria:  “You had plenty of cash, so you paid it.” (Bai Ganyo,  by Aleko Konstantinov)

The fact that thousands of people and some companies,  too,  sympathised with the victim and her family,  does not release the offender’s insurers from their obligation to cover her medical costs, say some law-practitioners.   The fact may not,  but that was exactly what the court did.

A day after the publication of their decision,  and the furious public reactions it arose,  the court had to face the music,  so to say,  and make some announcement.  The presiding judge stated that morality rarely has much to do with law.  And so it seems.  Next thing we ask ourselves may be if justice has anything to do with law.  If not,  why care for justice,  or law?

P.S.  It is important to be just to all parties involved,  so here is a summary of their reactions.  Mr.  Staviski was shocked by that decision and claimed he would never demand any money from Manuela and her family (here).  [In Bulgarian]

Mr. Staviski’s insurer Generalli’s position:  They publicly refused to claim any money from Manuela and her parents (here).  [In Bulgarian]

© 2011 Mariya Koleva