A COURTROOM that usually sees verdicts being read out was used on December 14 to display the skills and abilities of prisoners and their guards, together with Justice Minister Viera Petríková and Supreme Court President Štefan Harabin.
A group of men serving sentences for minor offences at a prison in Sučany (Žilina Region) used the building of the Supreme Court in Bratislava to act out the biblical story of Jesus Christ being born, through the eyes of Slovak shepherds, thus involving Slovak traditions in the show. In past years, the programme had comprised several items performed by various prisoners from across Slovakia, but this year the concept was simpler. According to prison chaplain Juraj Malý, who organised and directed the programme, the songs and acts were not just learnt but “performed from deep in the prisoners’ hearts”. Most of all, the chaplain said he was pleased to hear some of the young prisoners singing carols in their cells. He also thinks the very feeling that someone is interested in them helps them to become better human beings.
The famous Slovak priest and writer Anton Srholec, himself a former political prisoner, also watched their performance. He said that current conditions in prisons cannot be compared to those during the communist era. He also noted that the treatment of detainees and prisoners has changed – from repressive to more democratic, a change intended to turn the convicts into “decent people, evoking their thirst for creativity”.
11. Jan 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská