All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Lambs and Wolves

Bad WolfImage by doug88888 via Flickr
Recently there has been an unpleasant case.

An elderly man was found guilty last year of sexually abusing a girl some time ago when she was still in her teens and was sentenced to a spell in prison.

This summer, she was shocked and surprised to find him walking the streets of her town, free as a lark.

Had be been granted early  release?

No, he had never been sent to prison at all.
He had never tasted the French equivalent of porridge.
Nothing had happened to disturb the even tenor of his days.

He was, it appeared, too old to go to prison.
He was, it appeared, too ill to go to prison.
The judge responsible for sentencing had not been able to find time to consider what else to do with him.
So he was free.
He had never received the punishment awarded him.

While she was still trying to cope, not only with what had happened to her but also the dreadful experience of going public with it all, he had been getting on with his life, untouched by the  hand of the law.

It was rather a shock.

She .....rashly...went to see him, together with a friend.
Words were exchanged, words led to blows and some damage done to his garden as they left.

She and friend were, of course, arrested.

She agreed to accept a new sort of court appearance...'.comparution sur reconnaissance prealable de culpabilite' - CRPC - which was introduced a few years ago to get cut and dried cases through the courts quickly.
In appropriate cases, if a person acknowledges their guilt, they are interviewed by a prosecutor who proposes a penalty. A judge then either accepts or refuses the proposition brought before them.

She admitted the facts and was awarded ...given the special circumstances of the case....a one month suspended sentence.
She was told firmly that society could not tolerate individual acts of vengeance.

What is happening to the man who abused her?

Well there will be a later hearing to determine what she must pay him in damages for her outbreak.......and the judge responsible for finding an appropriate punishment in view of the claims about his age and health will try to make time to see if putting a tag on him would be all right.
I'm not holding my breath.

Years ago, there was an unpleasant case.

A gang of farmers were demonstrating about the price they were receiving for their meat at the abattoir.
As part of their demonstration they set fire to a lorry.
The lorry was full of lambs from England, all of whom were burnt alive while the farmers cheered.

The farmers were interviewed by the gendarmerie.
The dossiers were sent to the local court where, mysteriously, they disappeared from view.
No one seems to have made any enquiry as to why this case never came to court, although the farmers involved boasted openly of the power of their judicial connections.

Of course society cannot tolerate individual acts of vengeance.
That is why we have law and judicial institutions, to keep the wolves from the throats of the lambs.

But when the wolves are welcomed into the fold of  the judicial system....where are the lambs to turn?

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  1. I have no answers, my friend, but you can bet I'll be thinking of this tonight and, perhaps, tomorrow...


  2. Pearl, I have answers...but they are not very PC

  3. The judiciary is, at times, a low to itself

  4. Disgraceful isn't it? Unfortunately though it's perhaps typical of how the law in most countries has become. That the victims are often the ones punished whilst the guilty go free.

  5. Mark, I worry when the social contract becomes a mockery.

    Ayak, so why has it happened? I don't think that there was ever a 'golden age' of law, but this fairly open exemption for those with connections seems dreadful to me.

  6. I don't know about the law being as ass... but it's plainly bestial in it's morality.

  7. Steve, these examples are just the tip of the just one quiet area of France.
    To make public stuff I know of which hasn't made the press I'd have to be sure I had no property or money in France and to have left the country.

  8. My experience of French law leaves me contemptuous and in shock. Reading your account leaves me even more shocked.
    Locally a man lost his intelligent talented teenage son to a drunk skunk of driver. Was the guy ever punished? No, cos he was a father and his kids would have suffered. He was sentenced to prison of course, but never actually served a day. And it all took YEARS! The father wrote a book about the whole process and it makes sickening reading.

    It sickens me, all of it. The French system of justice is no justice and the French deserve better than a bunch of self-serving immoral corruptible judges.

  9. Sarah, I agree with you whole heartedly.

    Our corrupt local court has finally been closed...but only for financial reasons!
    It had been a byword for sleaze for years but, as people said...what could you do?

  10. I have no words to describe how I feel - reading this but will have to do with shocked, appalled, sickened....

  11. Hadriana's Treasures, but you can bet your boots that she'll have the bailiffs on the doorstep if she doesn't pay whatever the the court awards her aggressor in damages...
    I agree...there aren't words, well, not ones one can use on a semi public forum.

  12. It really is quite sickening that this sort of thing could happen. It amazes me how people are let out of jail early, for what to me are horrendous cases. It does not only happen in France though!! Diane

  13. Diane, of course it happens elsewhere. All I can do is to comment on what I see around me.
    I wouldn't mind quite so much if he and the farmers had even seen the inside of a gaol.

  14. Justice? I don't believe it now and I have reason to say that. Nothing surprises me anymore. Well said :-)

  15. Clippy Mat, there's the old story of an English judge faced with an indigant litigant who says
    'I came here for justice...'
    to which he replies
    'I regret, Madam, that I can only administer law....'

    But these cases I describe both law and justice are manifestly absent...for the victim.

  16. The story about the farmers is truly horrible, nightmarish and evil. I hope they are haunted.

  17. Zuleme, it gave me nightmares at the time.
    They are indeed evil people....but it's all part and parcel of the way in which the majority of them regard animals.

  18. I wonder if this is the same situation commune after commune. I also wonder when exactly the gendarmerie near to us opens because there are always bars over the entrance - I bet if us Brits broke the law they would soon find a prison in which to hurl us.

    Hope all the plans are going well

  19. French Fancy, I don't know if it changes from area to it's supposed to be down to manpower shortages...but there seem to be plenty of them about once you get through all the barriers to their offices.
    There's a timetable in the commune bulletin telling you which station is supposed to be open when...but it doesn't bear much relation to reality.

    And if it's trouble..then they don't want to know.

    Have I blogged about the bucket of stones? I can't remember.

    Plans going well, thanks!

  20. PigletinFrance...your comment is in Blogger's comments file but it won't come up.
    I'll try again later.

    Feel free to use this as Sarah's undercover blog to avoid offence to the sensitive...I'm quite flattered!

  21. The French justice system leaves a lot to be desired. I have been battling with it on two separate occasions over the past ten years. My last case is still going through 5 years later. Criminal justice here I understand is just as bad. I think a lot of problems stem from their ancient laws which the majority of time have not been adapted, and when they are adapted no-one can actually interpret the adaptations. I spent a long time wondering whether to embark on a French law degree and decided that I couldn't possibly as I didn't agree with the countries basic fundamentals. Your post was a good read which I thoroughly enjoyed apart from the nasty parts about horrible things happening. It has given me comfort in that I'm actually normal as I often wonder what on earth is wrong with me (and my blog for that matter) as I just cannot see France with rosy tints? Thanks Fly! Sarah: as for the battleaxe giving you a card for a Sophrologue, well!!!

  22. What type of business card could you give her? Maybe a sexologue pour la decoincer a bit? She sounds the type of person that would shrivel up and disappear into the ground! mmm, will have to give this one some thought Or maybe you can just say to her something like Why are you talking to me? Why are you invading my personal space? Cow! Sorry Fly for my outburst!

  23. The two above are not me but PigletinFrance.
    Damned if I'll be beaten by Blogger.

  24. For once, she who hurls tights at policemen, is speechless...

  25. e, I wonder who his high powered relation is...