Yesterday a 38-year-old Polish man was handed a 3 year suspended sentence for threatening and racially abusing a Ukrainian shop assistant.
Named as Sebastian N, the offender was also ordered to pay compensation to the victim and to stay away from alcohol.
The incident at the centre of the case took place in April this year in a grocery store in Wroclaw's Tarnogaj district.
It is said that Sebastian, who was already under the influence of alcohol, turned on the Ukrainian checkout operator while he was buying vodka and a sandwich.
According to the victim's statement in court, Sebastian screamed at the woman "when you are in Poland you speak Polish!". The checkout operator did of course speak in Polish, but naturally with the accent of her home country.
The checkout operator also told the court that Sebastian had then gone on to deliver further insults, including "Ukrainian slag". She also told the court that Sebastian had followed up the insults with a death threat and even tried to hit her with a bottle of beer.
The nightmare didn't end there either, as Sebastian returned the next day to the shop to continue his drunken rhetoric. The checkout operator was reportedly in tears afterwards and had to be consoled by colleagues in the shop's staff room.
As is often the case with hate crime cases in Poland, Sebastian blamed his behaviour on "too much alcohol". He told the court that he couldn't remember what he was talking about with the shop assistant. He did admit to having an argument, but stressed it was "nothing serious".
He then went to explain that "I have no issue with Ukrainians, only this girl specifically. I did not threaten her because she was Ukrainian, I challenged her and threatened her because she was grumpy". Sebastian could not explain, however, why the shop assistant felt this way.
Continuing the line that he is not racist, Sebastian then started to talk about his Ukrainian family ties: "I have one Ukrainian in my family and I have a good relationship with him".
Sebastian did nonetheless admit in court that his actions had been a mistake. He also apologised to the Ukrainian woman personally a month after the incident took place.
Before the verdict was read out, Sebastian chose not to contest the charges made against him. Instead he pleaded for a sentence that would allow him to continue "life as normal".
In the end Sebastian did get his wish as the judge handed him a three year suspended sentence. However, he must pay compensation to the victim. Should he be seen drunk in public again, he also risks jail-time.