Six suspects, including a woman charged with murdering her partner and a man on trial for rape, have been released from custody because one of the judges involved in their cases had not officially been sworn into the judiciary.
The judge had ordered the suspects to be remanded in custody in pre-trial hearings. However on Tuesday a court in Den Bosch said the rulings were not legally binding because the judge in question did not have the formal authority to make them.
‘In a constitutional state like the Netherlands people can only be held if there is a legal basis for doing so,’ the court said, while explaining its position. ‘The fact that the suspects are believed to be involved in serious crimes and that it is socially undesirable that they are freed makes no difference to this constitutional right,’ the court said.
The public prosecution department in Den Bosch said on Wednesday afternoon that it would appeal against the ruling.
It was socially unacceptable to release the six because they were on trial for very serious crimes, the department said. In addition, there were sufficient grounds to keep the six in custody pending their trial. The appeal will be heard in early November.
The NRC reported on Wednesday that the judge had been involved in 40 trials over a six week period before being sworn in. Of these cases, 16 involved pre-trial hearings.
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