The president of the Assize court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny has expressed concerns that corrupt juries could hinder criminal cases across the Seine-Saint-Denis area.
Assize court president Philippe Jean-Draeher made his concerns known in an internal note obtained by French newspaper Le Parisien which reports that the judge is worried about organised gangs influencing and corrupting jurors to acquit suspects in serious cases.
“Very quickly, when speaking to jurors, an almost unanimous tendency appeared, to refuse the guilt of some defendants,” Jean-Draeher wrote and added that some of the acquittals were “totally unfounded”.
The note comes after a jury of seven men and one woman acquitted suspects in a serious violent kidnapping case connected to drug trafficking in which the victim was tortured for 36 hours by being beaten, burned, and nearly drowned in Seine-Saint-Denis earlier this year.
The verdict in the case had even managed to be leaked before it was read in court. An investigation into the jurors on corruption charges led to six indictments, including one of the jurors.
Among those indicted were two men, said to be close associates of one of the suspects in the case. They are accused of intimidating one of the jurors and are said to have contacted the juror at a local shisha bar during the trial and knew each other from a local mosque.
The heavily-migrant populated Seine-Saint-Denis area, which contains an estimated 400,000 illegal migrants, is well-known for several extremely violent criminal cases in recent years.
Last year, three African men were arrested after assaulting a man in the suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois. The men proceeded to bite off pieces of his lip and ear in an apparent act of cannibalism.
In August, a server at a restaurant in Noisy-le-Grand was fatally shot by a man who allegedly murdered the waiter for taking too long to make a sandwich.
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