they’d had an argument, maybe they’d had a quiet few days, or maybe he’d been drinking with his mates. Back a bit – he should cross out the lover, because if Sobieraj and Wilczur were telling the truth, he was the most infatuated husband on earth. Back again – he couldn’t cross anything out, in case it was a small-town, thick-as-thieves conspiracy, God knows who, why and for what reason he shouldbe told anything. Wilczur did not inspire trust, and Sobieraj was a friend of the family.
“Prosecutor,” the judge’s strident voice shook him out of his lethargy, and he realized he had only heard every third word of the defence counsel’s speech.
He stood up.
“Yes, Your Honour?”
“Could you take a stance on the position of the defence?”
Bloody hell, he hadn’t the slightest idea what the position of the defence was. In Warsaw, apart from exceptional circumstances, the judge never asked for an opinion, he just got bored listening to both sides, withdrew, passed sentence, job done, next please.
Here in Sandomierz the judge was merciful.
“To change the classification of the crime to Article 217, paragraph one?”
The content of the article flashed before Szacki’s eyes. He looked at the defence counsel as if he were a madman.
“I take the position that this has to be a joke. The counsel for the defence should familiarize himself with the basic interpretations and jurisdiction. Article 217 concerns assault and battery, and is properly only applied to minor fights, or when one politician slaps another one in the face. Of course I understand the defence’s intentions – assault and battery is a privately prosecuted indictment, subject to a punishment of one year at most. There is no comparison with sexual abuse, for which the penalty is from six to eight months. But that is the crime your client has committed, sir.”
The defence counsel stood up. He gave the judge an enquiring look, and she nodded.
“I would also like to remind the court that as a result of mediation almost all the injured parties have forgiven my client, which should result in a remission of the sentence.”
Szacki did not wait for permission.
“Once again I say: please read the Code, sir,” he growled. “Firstly, ‘almost’ makes a big difference, and secondly, remission as a result of mediation only applies to crimes subject to up to three years’imprisonment. The most you can petition for is extraordinary commutation of the sentence, which in any case is ridiculously low, considering your client’s exploits.”
The lawyer smiled and spread his hands in a gesture of surprise. Too many films, too little professional reading, Szacki thought to himself.
“But has anyone been harmed? Did anyone suffer any unpleasantness? Human affairs, involving adults…”
A red curtain fell before Szacki’s eyes. He silently counted to three to calm himself down. He took a deep breath, stood up straight and looked at the judge. She nodded, her curiosity aroused.
“Counsel for the defence, the prosecution is amazed both at your ignorance of the law and of civilized behaviour. I would remind you that for many months the defendant Huby went about houses in Sandomierz county kitted out with a white gown and a medical bag, passing himself off as a doctor. That in itself is a felony. He passed himself off as a specialist in, I quote: ‘palpation mammography’, and suggested prophylactic examination, with the aim of making the women bare their chests and give him access to their charms. Which comes under the definition of rape. And I would also like to remind you that he assured most of his ‘patients’ that their bosoms were in good health, which might not have been true and could have led them to abandon their plans for prophylactic tests, and thus to serious health problems. In any case, that is the main reason why one of the injured parties refused to agree to mediation.”
“But in two of the ladies he felt a lump and