Thursday 17 February 2011

Vive La (Non) Difference!

Agnès Poirier (political commentator and film critic) is staunchly behind the French magistrate temper-tantrum:
French judges won't judge any more, at least for the time being.
They have had enough and cancelled all but vital work since Monday, after Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out at them over a repeat offender.
Oh? And what did magistrates have to do with this, I wonder?
This time, a former convict killed and dismembered an 18-year-old, Laetitia Perrais, and refused to tell the police where he threw the body parts. Only her head and arms have been found so far. The murderer was released from prison a year ago and was under investigation for a minor offence – "offence to the authority of a law officer". His case had been placed many times at the bottom of a pile of more pressing and serious dossiers.
Whew! Thought it was something bad or incompetent for a minute there…

I’m getting a bit of déjà vu as well.
Once more, Sarkozy's response to the news is emotional.
And what should it be?

Indifference? To the news that state agents laziness has resulted in an unnecessary death?
"The president's words are scandalous. He's being demagogic again," says magistrate Christophe Régnard. "To say that we have had enough is an understatement. No magistrate is at fault here," adds Matthieu Bonduelle, general secretary of the magistrates' union, the SM.
You aren’t at fault for the murder, no. That's purely the fault of the man who killed her.

But for not doing your job properly? Had to see how you could wriggle out of that. Though, like our own justice system, you’ll try.

How about blaming lack of resourc…

Oh. I see you are ahead of me there:
With more than 60 cases each, French magistrates do have fewer and fewer means to do their job properly. They must prioritise. Audiences often finish at 1am. In winter, they work with their coats on, no heating on. Court hearings are sometimes postponed because of lack of paper for the printers.
Do more with less. That’s what everyone else is being told, isn’t it?
Also, since Sarkozy was elected in May 2007, repression and severe sentencing have been the main ordre du jour. Now, 90% of cases go to court with only 10% classés sans suite (settled).
Oh noes! They’re locking up…

Who, exactly? Perhaps, precisely the people who should be locked up? Like this chap?
If an important fringe of French public opinion responds well to Sarkozy's populist stance, a growing part of the population is becoming more and more reluctant to follow the president's disrespectful and bullying tactics.
Then he can sack them, can’t he?

Mind you, not that we have any need to feel superior, given our woefully creaking justice system:
People have been warned not to approach a "dangerous" prisoner who has absconded while on licence.

Wayne Harris, 41, was serving an eight-year sentence for offences including false imprisonment and serious violence.
Eight years ago, that sentence must have been imposed in 2002, or someth…

He was jailed at Snaresbrook Crown Court in December 2007.
That’s..what, three years into his sentence, give or take?

Just half of it, in fact?

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