French judge defends handling of botched pedophilia case at inquiry

[JURIST] French Judge Fabrice Burgaud told a parliamentary inquiry [hearing materials, in French] Wednesday that he had not acted incorrectly when investigating pedophilia charges in the French town of Outreau. Thirteen people were wrongly convicted of pedophilia and spent 16-39 months in jail before all the convictions were finally overturned [JURIST report] late last year after the accuser admitted that her accusations were false [JURIST report]. The French justice system has been widely criticized for its handling of the case [JURIST report], with many questioning why court magistrates accepted the accuser's testimony and that of her children despite the inconsistencies in their testimony.

The cross-party committee investigating the case consists of thirty deputies seeking to reform the French justice system so that similar mishaps do not occur, and will address several issues pertaining to the investigation. Several wrongly accused victims were present at the questioning, accusing Burgaud of seeking to establish guilt without listening to arguments in defense of the accused. Burgaud, who was responsible for investigating the charges and recommending whether to prosecute, has maintained that he followed the letter of the law and has refused to offer an apology to the wrongly convicted. AFP has more. France's Le Monde has local coverage [in French].

 

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