Kauza Cervanová

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This is a summary of the Ľudmila Cervanová murder case (1976), originally posted here to supplement my IMDB review of the superb Kauza Cervanová documentary movie (2013) by Robert Kirchhoff. The reason for posting the summary disjointedly here was that, sadly, IMDb enforces a 1000-word limit for reviews posted on their site. Later, though, I submitted the passage below to IMDb as my "plot summary" of the movie; it remains to be hoped that the summary will be approved and actually displayed on IMDb's site.
Murder Case Summary

A pretty female medical student was found murdered in 1976, with hands tied behind her back, lying in a creek not far from Slovakia's capital Bratislava. She had been last seen alive the previous night, leaving to catch a late train, departing from her college dormitory located in what resembles a huge campus area, notorious in Bratislava for excesses of student life.

After five years of investigations, the Communist police, in 1981, arrested 7 young men, the victim's (Ľudmila Cervanová's) peers and likewise students at the time when the murder occurred. They were charged with raping and murdering Ľudmila, and convicted to long prison terms – even though no positive evidence of rape was found, and even though the case against the 7 men rested largely (exclusively?) on circumstantial evidence. No incontrovertible proof against the 7 was ever produced.

Now, the weird thing about that is, that the 7 men came from respectable families – respectable in the eyes of the Communist totalitarian regime of (Czecho-)Slovakia in those years, that is. To quite a few impartial observers, the fact that sons hailing from Communist families were charged with the murder, was proof enough that the Communist police did a good, unbiased investigative job – that they did not shirk from labelling some of "their own" as the culprits. Others were not so convinced; while the 7 men may have come from Communist families, they were by no means families of top Communist officials. And so, conspiracy theorists would opine that the regime may have sacrificed some of their "lesser servants" in order to, perhaps, protect those who were even higher up in the hierarchy.

To complicate matters further, there's even a possible Arab connection – yes, that all happened back in 1976, a full quarter century before 9-11. Ľudmila's father, an army officer, used to train pilots from various Arab countries (those befriended with the Soviet Bloc of that era); they used to take flying lessons in Slovakia. Now, some witnesses claim they saw Ľudmila getting into a car driven by someone with a Mid-Eastern complexion. Those witnesses were either not properly examined by the police, or their evidence was brushed aside; the verdict against the 7 Slovak young men was pronounced in 1981 anyway, after even the Communist President of Czechoslovakia, Husák, had pushed for a resolution of the case.

The Communist regime in Czechoslovakia collapsed in November 1989. The case was brought to a renewed trial, and after a couple of years, the court ordered a release of the 7 prisoners, stating that the original investigation had not been impartial. Yet that was not enough justification for the 7 men: they plead their full innocence, and they started a lengthy (and I mean, really lengthy: lasting well into the 21st century) process of legal rehabilitation for themselves.

Little did they know what the result of their efforts would be: in a renewed trial in 2006, a top Slovak court concluded that the original police investigation of 1981 had been, after all, impartial enough. It reaffirmed the guilt of the 7 men, and even increased the original prison term sentences imposed on them back in 1981. Some of the erstwhile prisoners – those with the longest original sentences – had to return to prison in 2006, a full 30 years after the murder, and 25 years after the original trial, to spend a few more years in jail.

IMDb Plot Summary
Note: Due to the embarrassingly outdated software running on IMDb's site, I was not allowed to use elementary formatting features in my plot summary there, such as: paragraph breaks; properly formatted dashes (– instead of the awkward --, let alone the totally incorrect hyphen as auto-pseudo-corrected by IMDb's formatting checker in place of a dash); and the initial letter Ľ of the victim Ľudmila's first name. Sigh...

A pretty female medical student was found murdered in 1976, with hands tied behind her back, lying in a creek not far from Slovakia's capital Bratislava. She had been last seen alive the previous night, leaving to catch a late train, departing from her college dormitory located in what resembles a huge campus area, notorious in Bratislava for excesses of student life. After five years of investigations, the Communist police, in 1981, arrested 7 young men, the victim's (Ludmila Cervanová's) peers and likewise students at the time when the murder occurred. They were charged with raping and murdering Ludmila, and convicted to long prison terms -- even though no positive evidence of rape was found, and even though the case against the 7 men rested largely (exclusively?) on circumstantial evidence and confessions obtained by questionable (perhaps even illicit) means. No incontrovertible proof against the 7 was ever produced. A curious aspect of the murder trial was that the 7 men came from respectable families -- respectable in the eyes of the Communist totalitarian regime of (Czecho-)Slovakia in those years, that is. To quite a few impartial observers, the fact that sons hailing from Communist families were charged with the murder, was proof enough that the Communist police did a good, unbiased investigative job -- that they did not shirk from labeling some of "their own" as the culprits. Others were not so convinced; while the 7 men may have come from Communist families, they were by no means families of top Communist officials. And so, conspiracy theorists would opine that the regime may have sacrificed some of their "lesser servants" in order to, perhaps, protect those who were even higher up in the hierarchy. To complicate matters further, there's even a possible Arab connection. A full quarter century before 9-11, Ludmila's father -- an army officer -- used to train pilots from various Arab countries (those befriended with the Soviet Bloc of that era), giving them flying lessons in Slovakia. Some witnesses claim they saw Ludmila getting into a car driven by someone with a Mid-Eastern complexion on the night of her disappearance. It appears that those witness statements had not been properly investigated by the police, yet the verdict against the 7 Slovak young men was pronounced in 1981 anyway, after even the Communist President of Czechoslovakia, Husák, had pushed for a resolution of the case. The Communist regime in Czechoslovakia collapsed in November 1989. The case was brought to a renewed examination, and after a couple of years, the court ordered a release of the 7 prisoners, stating that the original investigation had not been impartial. Yet that was not enough justification for the 7 men: they plead their full innocence, and they started an extortionately lengthy (lasting well into the 21st century) process of legal rehabilitation for themselves. Little did they know what the result of their efforts would be: in a renewed trial in 2006, a top Slovak court concluded that the original police investigation of 1981 had, after all, been impartial enough. It reaffirmed the guilt of the 7 men, and even increased the original prison term sentences imposed on them back in 1981. Some of the erstwhile prisoners -- those with the longest original sentences -- had to return to prison in 2006, a full 30 years after the murder, and 25 years after the original trial, to spend a few more years in jail.

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