Letter: Europe's shame

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I must correct your correspondent Mary Wane (letter, 2 August) on the matter of corpus juris and its use to combat fraud in the EU. It is not just a report as she suggests, but 35 articles of legislative text.

As it stands, it is limited to crimes of fraud against EU finances, but at the seminar in San Sebastian where it was unveiled by the EU Commission in April 1997, the printed programme said explicitly that it was conceived as an embryonic European criminal code. Indeed Article 18 provides that "the territory of the member states of the Union constitutes a single legal area".

It provides penalties for up to seven years' imprisonment and Article 26.1 stipulates that all cases will be hear by courts of "professional" judges, excluding simple jurors and lay magistrates. It will bring in a director of public prosecutions and a European public prosecutor in each state. They will operate under the Continental inquisitorial system, with cross-border powers of imprisonment for six months, extendable indefinitely at three-monthly intervals, and there would be no right to habeas corpus or trial by jury.


Sandhurst, Berkshire