Czech High Court endorses five-year sentence in child abuse case

Olomouc, Czechoslovakia - The High Court in Olomouc endorsed a five-year prison sentence for Barbora Skrlova for her involvement in the abuse of small children in the "Kurim" case though her lawyer sought her acquittal or at least lowering the sentence.

Last year, six people, including Skrlova, were convicted of brutal maltreatment of the children and received prison sentences. Higher-level courts rejected the appeals of five of them and confirmed their sentences.

Skrlova maintained that she was not guilty of maltreatment and sought to achieve an acquittal verdict.

Her lawyer Richard Novak said her involvement in the case was quite different from the remaining convicts'.

Skrlova was given five years in prison for trying to drown one of the children but she said she was forced to do so.

She said she had to comply with the orders out of fear for her life.

The case of gross maltreatment of two children, who were tortured from summer 2006 till May, 2007, surfaced in May 2007 when a neighbour of the boys' mother who lived in the town of Kurim, south Moravia found out by accident that she kept one of her children naked and tied up for many hours in an empty room without windows.

Police later ascertained that both children were kept naked in cages for hours, beaten up, scratched with a fork, burnt with cigarettes and cut.

Skrlova, 34, who passed herself off as an underage girl also as a boy, lived together with the children in their family.

After the case was uncovered she flew to Norway where she passed herself off as an abused Czech boy.

It has not been clarified during the investigation why Skrlova, a university graduate, did this. According to some speculations, she and the rest of the convicts were members of a religious sect.

The children's mother was sentenced to nine years in prison, the children's aunt received a 10-year prison sentence, two other persons involved were sentenced to seven years in prison each and one suspect was given a five-year suspended sentence.