Over two weeks after having been an innocent witness of what might or might not have been a laptop theft, to which later was added a might have happened or might not have happened camera theft …
You still there? If not: see part 1 and related posts.
If you had asked me earlier, if I had deemed my treatment by police being possible in a civilised country which prides itself on being an EU member state and is quick to use its “right” to criticize and accuse other countries of trampling all over civil and legal rights, I would have raised an eyebrow. But probably have answered you it might be possible but unlikely.
Now of course, I had first-hand experience of what “innocent till proven guilty” in this country now means. After receiving an “invitation” to get to a local police station for a suspect-interview, instead of a witness-interview, it was time to get advice.
The credit crisis, banking crisis, financial crisis, any crises has been used to cut back access to free or affordable legal aid here. This has been going on for decades in practically all EU member states, where inhabitants had access to free or affordable legal advice and aid.
There is now only one office left here, where a first advice is free. So I cycled to it, joined the long queue waiting for this overworked office to open, then got a number, sat down, waited.
Once it was my turn, I went to the counter and while telling what had happened Saturday (see part 5), broke down. The trainee certainly got a hands-on, swim or sink introduction to legal aid to innocent, witnesses having been subjected to police intimidation.
Like friends earlier, she advised to lodge a formal complaint against the policeman involved. It was totally unacceptable and definitely unprofessional behaviour!
Despite friends and now legal aid urging me to file such a complaint, any victim of similar treatment will understand I was wary to do so – before the scheduled interview at the police station. I was totally convinced any complaint would be used against me.
One of many things I wanted advice about was also, if blogging about what had happened might get me into trouble. What a relief to be told that posting about what had happened and how I had experienced things, was not illegal. It might even be used by lawyers as a basis for additional statements in case this ever became necessary.
The bad news: I’d have to deal with the police thug on my own during the suspect-interview at the station. Getting a lawyer involved at what should have been marked a witness-interview, at this stage would cost over 300 Euro per hour and that was a waste of money. Only if police were going to charge or arrest me, would I be entitled to free legal aid.
As I was innocent, I was advised to stress I was an innocent witness, not involved in anything – not in any laptop theft nor camera theft – and state I was using my legal right to remain silent. At the same time, I was advised to try and find out, if anybody had accused me.