Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Inspector Wroblewski was not convinced

Krystian Bala Truth, it seems, really is stranger than fiction.
Novellist Krystian Bala was today jailed for 25 years for inspiring and organising a murder that he had written about in a macabre best-selling thriller.
A court in the Polish city of Wroclaw found the 33-year-old philosopher and photographer guilty after an extraordinary trial that tested the boundaries of fact and fiction and, for a while, forced the police and prosecutors to become literary critics.
Krystian Bala was acutely jealous of Dariusz Janiszewski, whom he suspected of being a lover of his ex-wife. In December 2000, Mr Janiszewski, the young owner of an advertising agency, was fished out of the river Oder, bearing signs of torture.He had been thrown into the river alive, trussed up with a noose round his neck. The police could find no motive and no suspect. But three years later Mr Bala published his book Amok, about a group of young intellectuals using sex and drugs to explore the meaning of crime, punishment and truth. The book contains an account of a murder, remarkably similar to that of Mr Janiszewski.
An anonymous phone call to the police alerted Chief Inspector Jacek Wroblewski to the parallels. One theory is that the call was made by the author himself, playing a form of mind-game with his baffled investigator. When the case was presented on the Polish equivalent of the BBC programme CrimeWatch, the producers received calls from Asia describing the murder as “the perfect crime”. Mr Bala was in Asia at the time. ”There are indeed similarities between the author and the main hero of the book, Amok,” said the judge, but stressed they were not the decisive proof of the crime. The clinching evidence, she said, was Mr Bala’s attempts to sell the telephone of his victim on the internet four days after his disappearance. Mr Bala claims to have found the phone in a cafe. That blunder wrecked the possibility of Mr Bala getting away with the perfect crime.
The police had been mocked and criticised for taking fiction as fact. That was supposed to be Mr Bala’s defence: Poland, he argued, was gravely restricting the freedom of expression by taking his imagined murder as the literal truth.He was guilty merely of thorough research.”They seemed to know the book by heart,” said Mr Bala, in a statement which he released to the internet,”they quoted pieces from it that they found offensive and asked me about even the smallest detail.The police were treating the book as if it were a literal autobiography.”
Inspector Wroblewski was not convinced. Neither was the court.
Mr Bala is expected to appeal against the sentence.. (more on timesonline)

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