The presumption of innocence

(C)Daniel Butcher 2007

Image (C)Daniel Butcher 2007

The presumption of innocence is the principle that a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, which has to collect and present evidence that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant does not have to prove anything. This principle is a cornerstone of justice in most advanced countries.

Except in Italy

Soon after Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were arrested, Judy Bachrach wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine. She quoted ecclesiastical judge Count Neri Capponi who informed her that things would not go Knox’s way. “Our system stems from the Inquisition and also from medieval law,” he explained. What this means, in effect, is that justice in Italy “is based on the supremacy of the prosecution. This nullifies the fact—written in our constitution by the way—that you’re innocent until proven guilty.”

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