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Slovak hockey player must go to prison

The Regional Court (KS) in Žilina on July 23 upheld a four-year prison sentence against former ice hockey player Marcel Hanzal for causing a traffic accident under the influence of alcohol that claimed the life of his then team-mate Štefan Blaho. According to the TASR the court also upheld the decision of Žilina District Court on a six-year driving ban for Hanzal, plus damages of nearly Sk300,000 (€9,800) that the 33-year old former player of one of Slovakia's top ice-hockey clubs Dukla Trenčín must pay to the father of the 21-year-old victim. The ruling by the Regional Court cannot be appealed. "The penalty that was imposed by both the District Court and us today is strict, but the lightest that could have been imposed,” said judge Martin Bargel of the court. “It was a tragedy, not an intentional death, but if the defendant had not been drunk and had not driven a car, the accident would never have happened. I have to say that I consider driving a motor vehicle under the influence as an expression of utmost arrogance and impudence," added Bargel. Hanzal himself was absent at the court’s session. According to his attorney Miroslav Smičík, Hanzal was unable to attend the hearing because of physical and mental problems that have persisted since the accident.

The Regional Court (KS) in Žilina on July 23 upheld a four-year prison sentence against former ice hockey player Marcel Hanzal for causing a traffic accident under the influence of alcohol that claimed the life of his then team-mate Štefan Blaho. According to the TASR the court also upheld the decision of Žilina District Court on a six-year driving ban for Hanzal, plus damages of nearly Sk300,000 (€9,800) that the 33-year old former player of one of Slovakia's top ice-hockey clubs Dukla Trenčín must pay to the father of the 21-year-old victim. The ruling by the Regional Court cannot be appealed.

"The penalty that was imposed by both the District Court and us today is strict, but the lightest that could have been imposed,” said judge Martin Bargel of the court. “It was a tragedy, not an intentional death, but if the defendant had not been drunk and had not driven a car, the accident would never have happened. I have to say that I consider driving a motor vehicle under the influence as an expression of utmost arrogance and impudence," added Bargel.

Hanzal himself was absent at the court’s session. According to his attorney Miroslav Smičík, Hanzal was unable to attend the hearing because of physical and mental problems that have persisted since the accident.

On August 29, 2006, Hanzal in his Mitsubishi Pajero SUV crossed over to the opposite side of the road and careered off the road, flipping several times. Hanzal's front-seat passenger Blaho was killed instantly, while two other team-mates as well as Hanzal escaped serious injury. The breathalyser test, which Hanzal took after the accident, revealed 1.5 per mille of
alcohol.

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