Monday, March 27, 2006

Outrage of Outreau could not happen here

Charles Clarke gloweringCharles Clarke has been pushing the French inquisitorial system of investigating magistrates to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Marcel Berlins reports a recent French case that shows Clarke could have not chosen a more inappropriate moment:

In Outreau, near Boulogne, 13 local people were accused of sexually abusing children. By the time their innocence was established, one had committed suicide and the others had spent long periods in prison - some of them four years. Their lives were ruined. All this can be directly traced to the cornerstone of the inquisitorial system - the wide powers of the examining magistrate (juge d'instruction), which are difficult to appeal against and allow him to keep suspects in detention as he slowly makes up his mind whether or not charges are justified.

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