stories from the court

the other day i got an invitation to be a witness at a trial. i was never witness before and the invitation i got said nothing about which case was it, what it was about. i was in complete dark.

i was smart enough to go there on monday which was 30th june and i waited for some 45 minutes only to figure out that monday was not the 1st july. i guess i still need to learn how to read the calendar. anyway that time was not wasted.

next to me was a 40+ guy and i started chatting to him. at first i asked him if he was waiting for my court room as well to figure out maybe we are in the same case so i can get an idea which case i am witnessing for. he was not in my case but somehow we started talking about him. he first told me he was a witness in a dispute between two friends of which one lied so he solved that but only after the other one begged him to. this is a complicated story and i will not retell it here but it was interesting.

his second story was that in kosovo, during war, he stole some stuff from a factory (like another hundred people did as well) but some guy reported him and he got two months of jail. he served his sentence in a jail which is divided in two: serbian and albanian part. he said serbs make no problems for each other but it would be very dangerous to mix with albanians. he told me how prisoners make knives out of toothbrushes.

the third story was most interesting: he was in war in kosovo and he was a leader of a small platoon which drove trucks or something like that. they were transporting some machinery and were attacked by snipers. he was driving. his co-driver was shot in face. another two guys were shot: one in the chest and other in the back of the leg. he was very realistic in the description of the wounds, i guess they are very graphical in his memory. they were suck under the sniper fire for half a day. he was covered in blood. somehow he had to do something with the truck because the breaks were blocked, he did it and they drove away leaving the dead. he excused himself to me for leaving the two dead soldiers but he saved the rest. when he was back at the hq everybody thought they were dead and when they saw them come back everybody cried. he seemed very excited that his captain was very emotional about it.

it was a nice set of stories so it was not a complete waste of time that i have mistaken the date of the trial.

i was back tomorrow for the trial and it was about a car crash i had in august 1999, just before i moved to milano. the insurance company that paid me was suing the guy i crashed into for the money that was paid me – almost 9 years later!

i had a moral issue related to this case. the driver whom i hit was drunk and he definitely made a bad call by cutting us. he, i think, was too drunk to figure out how far and how fast we were going. although by many people’s standards 0,7% alcohol is not much i think it was enough for him to make a mistake and cause the crash. but i also was driving like a madman those days. i think i was going close to 100kmh in an area which allows maybe 50kmh. it was 1am, empty streets, i was high on adrenalin. so we both caused the crash although i think basically it is the other driver’s fault, if fault can be distributed like that.

but on the statement i wrote i did 75kmh. actually i have no idea how fast i went. it could have been 80-90-100-110… i have no idea, i did not look at the speedometer while i drove, especially not back than. but i always felt like i lied in that statement and now, nine years later, i was forced to maybe tell that lie again. i was nervous. that one lie was always in the back of my mind. i was tempted to say i drove 100kmh but again i was not sure if i drove that fast, maybe i didn’t, i do not know.

at everybody’s surprise at the courtroom i started elaborating how i was going faster than the speed limit but i did not know how fast i did. the defence lawyer suggested that they open a case against me again.

i still do not feel “clean” for not being able to say exactly how fast i went but maybe in another decade i will be able to clear this moral issue. it seems important to me.

anyway, court was fun.