Public prosecutor under fire from supreme court

justice courts legal systemThe public prosecution department is strongly criticised in a report published on Tuesday by the supreme court for handing out punishment where there is insufficient evidence.

In 2008 the public prosecutor was given the legal to determine fines and sentences for cases carrying a maximum of six years imprisonment, but the supreme court is highly critical of how this change in the law is being handled.

In 8% of cases where the public prosecutor metes out punishment rather than a judge there is a lack of evidence, according to the report. These cases concern violations such as traffic offences which carry an automatic fine and minor misdemeanours such as shoplifting.

Problems include unsigned and undated reports reports based only on verbal information from the police, wrong identification of the suspect, young offenders not being questioned and the offence not being noted in the report, according to the supreme court report.

Procurator-general Jan Watse Fokkens says in the report that ‘there is a serious indication that the thoroughness and care with which guilt must be determined leaves much to be desired’.

Fokkens also says that the civil servants at the public prosecution department do not have the qualifications needed for determining punishment.

In a reaction, the public prosecutor said there are some areas where improvement is desirable. ‘Where necessary, we shall discuss joint measures with the police and the justice minister’, a spokesman told the Telegraaf.

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