579 innocent people in prison

14th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 June 2007, BRUSSELS – One in 20 suspects in pre-trial detention is finally acquitted when his or her case comes to trial.

14 June 2007

BRUSSELS – One in 20 suspects in pre-trial detention is finally acquitted when his or her case comes to trial.

Over the past four years, 579 people who never should have been held in custody spent time in prison. This has emerged from figures from the Board of Procurators General, requested by MP Guido De Padt (Open VLD), Het Laatste Nieuws reported on Thursday.

Justice Minister Onkelinx (PS) did not want to disclose how many people the Belgian state was required to pay damages to because of unlawful detainment. The question remains of whether the justice department is not throwing too many innocent people in prison unnecessarily.

"1 in 20, that is not excessive," says Tom Vander Beken, professor of criminal law at the University of Ghent. "Especially when you know that there is a great deal of criticism of the justice department for keeping people in pre-trail custody too often. An acquittal does not mean there were no grounds for someone to be held: it is possible that there was enough evidence of guilt. Someone can also be acquitted if the statute of limitations has expired."

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news

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