Imagine you are accused of a crime, but can't remember anything. Do you try to defend yourself? Are you feeling guilty? Would it feel unfair to you if you were convicted?
I am not speaking about me, thankfully, but about the German prime minister of Thuringia, Dieter Althaus. On the first of January he collided with Mrs. C. on the ski slopes of the Riesneralm in Styria, Austria. He wore a helmet and (barely) survived, she did not and didn't. According to eye-witnesses it was his fault - he disregarded warning signs and went around a barrier there to prevent exactly this type of accident.
But here is the twist: He doesn't remember anything of the incident. This is fairly common after severe injuries, particularily when suffering head trauma, so there is no reason to doubt Mr. Althaus - especially since he was in a coma for two days.
Yesterday the trial took place - Mr. Althaus was accused of involuntary manslaughter. And he did a very honourable thing: Since he doens't remember anything, he didn't even show up for the trial, but rather admitted his guilt and accepted any punishment the court would agree on a priori. Because of this, the court session was very short - it took only one hour, and Mr. Althaus was fined 33 300 Euro and 5000 Euro compensation to Mrs. C's widower.
There is some grumbling in the juridical profession in Austria about the speed of the trial, but what is there to deliberate? The only thing they had to do was to decide on the punishment, everything else was clear.
I'll tip my hat to Mr. Althaus comportment, it can't be easy to admit guilt to something you can't remember doing, butit was the right thing to do. That's the kind of behaviour I'd like to see in all politicians, standing up to their mistakes.
2 weeks ago