“I go to psychiatry, I take medication for months. Physically I feel good, mentally it will never be good again. I don’t sleep well. I thought my sleep would improve, but it didn’t. It’s still in my head and I can’t erase it,” he described on Thursday at the District Court for Prague 2 Tempel, which according to him has health consequences, including those of an intimate nature.
He avoids contact with people, which may be a result of the fact that he spent most of his time behind bars in solitary confinement and complete isolation. “I’m looking for solitude… I was always isolated in the prison,” noted Tempel, who regularly visits the Bohnice psychiatric hospital for consultations and for medication, which he brought a full plastic bag with him to the court.
Isolation and humiliation
He then described his experiences and life behind bars to Judge Klara Babičková, where he spent twenty years, before in 2021, following the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and subsequently the Czech Constitutional Court, he was definitively acquitted of double murder charges and released due to lack of evidence. .
“Incredible humiliation. Other prisoners, murderers and life convicts who were there by right, did not have it like this… They punished me for being in good physical shape,” said Tempel, who after his release managed to graduate from the industrial school and is now in the construction industry, where is a partner in one firm.
According to his words, from the beginning of his sentence, he had different, stricter and more isolated conditions than other prisoners, for example, he had to go for a walk in chains for a while, and even to the prison cafeteria he was led by an escort in handcuffs. He is said to have also experienced a situation where he was transported in a van from one department to another in the prison in Valdice for treatment, allegedly a distance of ten meters.
I didn’t kill and I want compensation, says Robert Tempel, released from life imprisonment
He is said to have been repeatedly put in isolation, i.e. in a disciplinary cell – solitary confinement, which he called “the hole”, often just out of fear because of his name. “They want to break you with it. They enjoyed doing it. They don’t raise you in prison. They only break you there and teach you to hate,” said Tempel, who did not want to be alone in the cell, but that was the way most of his imprisonment happened. In addition, he allegedly had a so-called technical inspection of the cell two to three times a day. “It breaks you too,” commented Tempel, who, according to his words, experienced very harsh treatment in prison, where he was locked in a cage all day while working in the kitchen at the dishwasher.
Personal inspection 25 times a day
He also had escorts to court that were quite unique, the likes of which were not experienced by other convicts for murder or life imprisonment. “Gradually, I went through a personal search, perhaps twenty-five times a day, that is, undressing and squatting, which the others didn’t have,” says the man, who was convicted of theft and robbery in the past, before he was sentenced to life in prison for double murder.
He is demanding around 86 million crowns from the court for his illegal prosecution, while the state has so far awarded him 3.6 million crowns. The largest amount – 2.7 million – is as compensation for the unlawful execution of a prison sentence. Furthermore, according to the Ministry of Justice, 700,000 crowns is a reasonable amount for illegal prosecution, and another 156,000 was awarded to him for the disproportionate length of the criminal prosecution. The European Court of Human Rights also awarded Tempel 12,500 euros (approx. 300,000 crowns) for his illegal prosecution.
“No amount of money will give me back what they took from me,” said Tempel, who, according to him, lost at least 13 or 14 years of his free life.
Tempel is claiming 86 million for 20 years in prison. The state awarded him a fraction
He denied guilt the entire time
The murders for which he was punished took place in the forest parking lot near Hrušková in Sokolovsko in 2001. According to the original verdict, he handed his victim 400,000 crowns there for a car he allegedly wanted to buy. He then allegedly shot the man. He allegedly also hit the second man and then hit him on the head with an iron bar with a piece of concrete and a wrench. According to the prosecution, he buried both bodies the next day in Chebsk.
He defended himself by saying that he did not commit the murder, but a person called Biftek, who was also at the scene of the crime and later acted as a key witness in the case. According to Tempel, the case involved drugs and debt repayment. It was the key witness who led the police to the place where the dead youths were buried. The Regional Court in Pilsen acquitted him four times, but the Prague High Court overturned the acquittal verdict each time. He was legally sentenced only after the High Court transferred the trial from Pilsen to the Regional Court in Prague. There he received a life sentence as a summary sentence for the murders and for two previous robberies.
The reason for the landmark verdict of the Constitutional Court in the Tempel case from 2021 was the opinion of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which stood up for the convicted man. He criticized the Czech Republic for a “significant failure of justice” in dealing with the case. The doubt consisted in the length of the proceedings, but also in the pressure of the Supreme Court of Appeal on the first-instance panel.
He was supported by the convicted Žirovnický
The judge stated on Wednesday that during the next hearings in March, she will hear the witnesses proposed by Tempel, among them his relatives, but also Albert Žirovnický. In the past, he himself was sentenced to 16 years for the murder of a camera salesman in the Q-foto store and has already served the entire sentence. On Wednesday, he arrived at the court to personally support Tempel, they are said to be good friends.
“I am involved in his case, after all, I drafted his complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, which brought a turning point,” Žirovnický told Novinkám in front of the courtroom.
At the same time, Tempel asked the court to do a “local investigation” in the prisons in which he gradually served his long sentence, that is, to see directly the places where he sat. These were, for example, prisons in Pankrác, Valdice and Mírov in Prague. Both the judge and Tempel himself would participate in it
“At the moment, I am positive about this, especially about the investigation in Pankrác,” the judge admitted that she would probably take this exceptional step.