Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Mashujaa day: Kenyatta and Odinga call for peace before election rerun

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Kurdish referendum a ‘colossal mistake’, says son of late president Talabani

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The new 30s club: NZ's Jacinda Ardern joins list of maverick leaders

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Raqqa, Kirkuk, Xi Jinping

Read more

REPORTERS

The Dictator's Games: A rare look inside Turkmenistan

Read more

#TECH 24

Teaching maths with holograms

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Is China exporting its pollution?

Read more

#THE 51%

Are female empowerment adverts actually good for the cause?

Read more

FOCUS

The mixed legacy of 'Abenomics' in Japan

Read more

France

Judicial error could release hundreds from French prisons

© AFP

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-08-09

Dozens – and possibly hundreds – of prisoners could be released from French jails following a June court ruling, which determined that France’s law on the statute of limitations was incorrectly applied from 2004-2012.

France’s Socialist government was facing a huge judicial headache after a report revealed Wednesday that hundreds of prisoners in French jails may have to be released on a technicality.

According to satirical and investigative weekly the Canard Enchainé, the Court of Cassation – France’s last court of appeal in civil and criminal matters – in June 2013 ruled a 2004 government decree on the statute of limitations null and void.

The statute of limitations, called “prescription” in France, sets out the time limit after a crime has been committed during which an offender can still be punished.

In 2004, France’s justice ministry decreed that the ministry, as well as sentencing judges, could decide whether a suspected criminal could still be imprisoned – even if the normal time limit had expired.

The decree also outlined conditions, such as sending out European arrest warrants, which could change or interrupt that period.

But the Court of Cassation ruled that only a law voted by both houses of parliament could change the conditions of the statute of limitations, therefore ruling the 2004 decree null and void.

Law was quietly changed in 2012

According to the Canard Enchainé, the justice ministry realised the mistake in June 2012 and "quietly and without explanation" amended the law.

It remains unclear if the ministry overlooked or deliberately ignored the fate of prisoners who might otherwise have been released.

The updated law is not retrospective – and the ministry of justice admitted late on Tuesday that it had instructed courts to re-examine 3,499 potentially problematic sentences handed down by judges during those eight years.

The ministry also confirmed that since the June ruling, 850 sentences had been reviewed and six people, serving time for offenses including domestic violence, fraud and aggravated robbery, had so far been released.

Dozens more prisoners – if not hundreds, according to Le Canard Enchainé – are likely to be released in the coming months and will undoubtedly go on to claim compensation for arbitrary imprisonment.

Date created : 2013-08-07

  • FRANCE

    Probe calls Strauss-Kahn 'kingpin' of illicit sex parties

    Read more

  • USA

    Ex-Goldman trader 'Fabulous Fab' found guilty of fraud

    Read more

  • USA

    Student 'forgotten' in US jail gets $4 million settlement

    Read more

COMMENT(S)