Professional ice hockey player Ladislav Ščurko was found guilty on Monday, July 16, of murdering hockey referee Marek Liptaj in January 2008, and sentenced to eight years in prison.
Judge Ján Poprocký stated, as quoted by the TASR newswire, that the court was not persuaded by the former HC Košice player’s ever-changing claims of innocence, and his assertion that the murder was actually committed by two men from a betting mafia. During the final court session on 12 July, evidence was presented from a search of the player's car, the site where the skeleton of the murdered man was found, and from the autopsy.
Litvaj was murdered in a lay-by on the motorway between Košice and Prešov. He was stabbed at least 14 times in the chest and stomach, dying immediately. His remains were discovered 300 metres from the road, where Ščurko had buried him. Psychiatric tests determined that Ščurko committed the crime in a state of temporary insanity, a mitigating factor that persuaded the court to impose a reduced sentence. He is now expected to undergo psychiatric treatment. Ščurko lodged an appeal immediately after the verdict was announced.
The Sme daily wrote in its Tuesday issue that Litvaj lived in Ščurko’s flat, asked him for money and support, and threatened him, which might have been a contributory factor in the crime.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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