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Legal justice runs over moral obligation

The Southerner

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BY ZACH PETERS

In Stockholm, Sweden on Oct. 23, a 28-year-old Tunisian man was caught on camera stealing from a drunken man who had fallen onto the tracks inside the Stockholm subway system. The man then proceeded to leave him on the tracks, where an oncoming train hit him.

The Tunisian man’s name is Nadar Khiari. He is being sentenced to one and a half years in prison for theft. Although Khiari is being forced to pay $1,800 in medical costs, he is not being charged for leaving the victim on the tracks. The incident shed some light on the questionable line between moral obligation and legal requirement.

The security cameras at the train station show whole situation. A drunken man stumbles by, and falls head first into the tracks. After a few seconds, another man appears. He jumps down from the platform onto the tracks, and takes the drunken man’s wallet and necklace. He then pulls himself out of the tracks, and continues about his day, offering no help to the man who fell. A train comes, and runs over the man.

Luckily, the victim survived, but medical professionals were not able to save the man’s foot. Of course, if Khiari had helped him to get off of the tracks, he would still have both of his feet. But Khiari cannot be charged for not helping someone. Sweden, like most other countries, doesn’t have any laws forcing you to help those in need. Khiari easily could’ve helped the man off of the tracks. There was a large amount of time between Khiari’s departure from the view of the camera and the train’s initial appearance.

Khiari admitted to robbing the man, and gave his reasoning for it. He needed money for food and medicine. Perhaps the method of obtaining money for these necessities was not in either party’s best interest, but there was a reason for it. But that still leaves one question. Why did Khiari not help the man off of the tracks? He was clearly intoxicated, and Khiari could have easily helped the man and still gotten away? I, personally, think that Khiari didn’t help the victim for a simple reason: Because he didn’t have to.

So where does our legal system draw the line between a law abiding requirement and a moral obligation? Apparently, allowing someone to be hit by a train is just shy of the legal marking, because Khiari isn’t being charged with anything other than theft. It’s difficult to define the point at which we are at fault for the harm of another individual, but in some cases, such as this one, the accident obviously could have been prevented. People can be accomplices in cases where they knew information but didn’t come forward with it to authorities. A scenario like this is much farther past the moral line than something like that, yet is still not against the law. The whole point of laws is that they are meant to be in the best interest of the citizens. But it’s not in the best interest of anybody if we don’t require people to help in instances when they can. Sweden is taking minor initiative and deporting Khiari back to Tunisia after his sentence is served. But this man is harmful by my definition. I don’t feel that he deserves to be anywhere except behind bars for an extended period of time.

Maybe if the law had required him to do so, Khiari would’ve felt more compelled to pull the victim out of the tracks. The whole controversy in this case is that Khiari wasn’t legally obligated to do so, and he didn’t choose to. We simply cannot allow this. If citizens are not going to draw the line of morality in a socially acceptable way, than the government needs to do it for them.

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Legal justice runs over moral obligation