This principle establishes the end of public action in criminal matters after a certain period, namely twenty years for adult victims and thirty years for minors, from their majority. Without prejudging the outcome of these discussions, we want society to question an extension of the statute of limitations, or even a total lifting of the statute of limitations for all serious crimes. But the cessation of the investigation and the impossibility of convicting the perpetrator one day is seen as a true legal pardon offered by the state.
This legal pardon is no longer bearable for the families of victims and, beyond that, for society. This principle of law is experienced as a profound injustice. Furthermore, an extension of the statute of limitations, or even the lifting of the statute of limitations for serious crimes, would make it possible to rectify past mistakes.
It sometimes happens that investigators, out of conviction or lack of means, have refused to consider all leads. This development would also make it possible to rectify another pitfall: when a suspect has been acquitted for lack of evidence, but it is later discovered that they are indeed responsible. This is notably the case in the murder of Frédéric Fauvet in 1985 in Marne.
But now this time limit is no longer in line with the progress of forensic science. A sample that yielded no results thirty years ago can now be analyzed much more precisely. DNA analysis, as well as the computerization of files, allow for much greater cross-referencing.
Of course, it is necessary that the evidence has been well preserved. If it has been damaged or destroyed, forensic science cannot work miracles. It does not solve everything with a magic wand.
In October 1988, Anne-Sophie Vandamme and Gilles Naudet, both 25 years old, disappeared in the famous forest of Seine-et-Marne. Their bodies were found two months later by hunters. They had been shot with a firearm.
In 2001, a suspect was tried and acquitted. Their parents filed a lawsuit for homicide by unknown person, but the case was ultimately prescribed in 2011. How many cases have had the same outcome?
Judicial records are full of cases solved as a result of an agreement between magistrates and investigators to extend the statute of limitations. It is a matter of human reaction, but shouldn’t all cases benefit from the same treatment?