In 2015, an Iraqi man entered Austria though the so-called Balkan route. On 2 December that year, he took a boy by the hand, locked him in the toilet of a swimming pool and raped him. The boy reached out to the lifeguard, who alerted the police. The police responded rapidly and were able to arrest the suspect, who had gone back to the three-metre diving boards.

The boy suffered wounds so severe, he had to be treated in hospital. Months later, it made the news, as the first part of the trial got underway.

The case reached the Supreme Court last year, which decided the case needs a retrial.

Why? Because the Supreme Court decided that the lower court should have ascertained, whether or not the perpetrator thought that the victim was in agreement with the sexual act. The supreme court thought that it was not sufficiently established that the perpetrator acted against the will of the victim. The refugee was twenty years old, the boy was ten.

When the retrial took place, the Higher Court reached a verdict of seven years; way lower than the maximum of 15 years it could have given.

But yesterday, the Austrian Supreme Court ruled that even that sentence was too severe, and lowered the punishment to 4 years in prison in a final verdict.

Four years are appropriate here,” the President of the court, Thomas Philipp, stressed in his extensive elaboration on the verdict in court. After all, the criminal offence was a “one-time occurrence.”

One should not lose all sense of proportion,” judge Philipp said. In handing out a sentence, it should not be forgotten that the defendant had no prior conviction – that the court knew of, anyway – and the fact that he was not yet 21-years-old when he committed the crime.

That the first court emphasised the “severity of the crime” and the “unforeseeable consequences“, held no sway with the Supreme Court. For these, Philipp said, there was a lack of “concrete statements” and it is “quite possible that no consequences materialise.” Even if “according to a psychiatric opinion, the boy had demonstrably developed a post-traumatic stress disorder after the fact.

When first questioned by the police, the man initially wrongly accused a 15-year-old of inciting him to act. Then, however, he made a statement to the effect that he “followed his lust” after “not having had sex for four months.” A statement he stuck by through the entire court case.