Criminal irresponsibility: Eric Dupond-Moretti defends a minimal reform

Five months after the emotion aroused by the Court of Cassation which, on April 14, had confirmed the criminal irresponsibility of the murderer of Sarah Halimi, and the promise by the Head of State to respond to it with a penal reform, Eric Dupond -Moretti defended, Tuesday, September 14, his bill before the law committee of the National Assembly. The Minister of Justice underlined, without calling into question this judgment of the high court, that it was the source of a “Terrible incomprehension of our fellow citizens” and had “Feeds a feeling of injustice”.

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In this case, the psychiatric experts concluded in the abolition of discernment at the time of the facts at Kobili Traoré, who defenestrated her neighbor of Jewish faith in April 2017 after having tortured her. The misunderstanding arose from the fact that justice could at the same time retain the anti-Semitic nature of the crime and declare its perpetrator irresponsible. According to some experts, the rare psychic phenomenon that affected this 27-year-old man was caused by the consumption of cannabis in large quantities a few hours beforehand. This has fueled slogans as simplistic as they are false according to which justice considers the consumption of narcotics as a mitigating circumstance for perpetrators of crimes or offenses, or even a means of escaping their criminal responsibility.

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Faced with a subject as sensitive as it is complex, Mr. Dupond-Moretti called for a reform “With infinite precautions” the penal code, without crossing the red line according to which there is no question of judging madmen. Its text is cautious, to the point that many deputies wonder what it would have changed in the Halimi affair if it had been in force.

There is therefore no question of touching article 122-1 of the penal code according to which “Is not criminally responsible the person who was suffering, at the time of the facts, of a psychic or neuropsychic disorder having abolished his discernment or the control of his acts”. But, pleaded the minister, it was necessary to establish “The distinction between the individual suffering from a heavy, disabling psychiatric pathology, which there will never be any question of judging, and the one who owes his madness to the voluntary consumption of psychotropic drugs”.

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Triple condition

Article 1er of the bill introduces an exception to the declaration of irresponsibility in the event that the author whose abolition of discernment was recognized at the time of the facts would have previously been alcoholic or drugged in order to give himself courage for a crime he had decided to commit. This article is content to endorse a case law which has reached a consensus between psychiatric experts and magistrates, for example in the case of a terrorist who consumes Captagon before committing an attack.

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