Re: continental European law

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Posted by Petra on November 18, 1997 at 23:32:44:

In Reply to: Re: continental European law posted by Neuromancer on November 18, 1997 at 12:04:45:

: : So, please don't spread those misperceptions any more.

: I was not speaking about any country in particular, and I must confess that German law is not a subject that I have any degree of in depth knowledge about. As such, I apologise for any misconceptions that I may have spread, I only wished to make it clear that English Law works under the precept 'innocent until proven guilty.'

: Once again, many apologies.

Hi, not to worry. Thought you agreed with Bill as far as "most of the rest of Europe" was concerned and wondered how in the world you guys got that strange idea (watchin' a little too much startrek, maybe? It's the Cardassians that do it that way, not the Continentals. Or was it the Klingons?) Well, to be serious again, as to my knowledge, there is not a single country in the world (I mean, on this planet..) that by law considers the accused guilty until proven innocent. What courts and prosecutors in some countries do may be a different thing, some may not respect their own laws as they are written (and here I'm not really thinking of today's European countries) and there are countries where the accused rotts in prison without a speedy trial in sight. But to really have the defense prove innocence as a matter of law, have you ever heard of such a thing? I haven't.
By the way, if you look at European legal history, the strange and paradox thing is that the introduction of the principle that the accused cannot be convicted without proof (I don't recall the exact time although we used to cover it at length, but my guess is somewhere in the 1500s, since the first central European criminal code dates from 1532) actually led to the extended use of torture during the middle ages. Before, during the time of absolutism (which in France didn't reach its peak until the reign of Louis IVX during the late 1600s), the ruler or the judge as his agent was absolutely free to decide about punishments, there was no need for justification of his decision. With the introduction of the principle that proof was required, meant to protect the rights of the accused, only a confession was considered absolute proof, and the prosecution did its best to get such a confession... This is precisely why refined torture became a regular thing and why those who were thought to be witches were not simply burned right away, but made to confess or "tested" by being pushed in a river - if they didn't sink, this was "proof" that they were not human. Strange world, isn't it?
Anyway, good luck in your further studies!

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