Violation of the Principle of Double Jeopardy

VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 4 PROTOCOL 7 ATTACHMENT TO THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS (NE BIS IN IDEM PRINCIPLE)

It is important to understand the basic principle of Double Jeopardy; the circumvention of which has been the single major obstacle and objective of the authorities in Palermo, in their campaign to persecute Vito Roberto Palazzolo.

Article 4 (Ne bis in idem), in essence, is the right not to be tried or punished twice. The pointers are clear:

  1. No one shall be tried or punished again in criminal proceedings under the jurisdiction of the same State for an offence for which he has already been conclusively acquitted or convicted with a final sentence in accordance with the Law and criminal procedures of said State.
  2. The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall not prevent the re-opening of the case in accordance with the Law and criminal procedures of the State concerned, if there is evidence of new or newly discovered facts, or if there has been a fundamental defect in the previous proceedings, which could affect the outcome of the case.

The ne bis in idem principle is provided for under article 649 of the Italian Criminal Procedure Code and the conviction handed down by the Court of Appeal in Palermo has convicted Palazzolo for a fact-crime (article 416 bis Criminal Code, Mafia association) for which he has been acquitted in the Court in Rome on 28.03.92.

On 09.01.04 the First Criminal Section of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Rome underlined that in Palazzolo’s case:

· It was impossible to take into consideration facts prior to 1992 (the date on which the Court in Rome had acquitted Palazzolo for the crime of association to commit a Mafia type crime).

· It was impossible to consider as permanent a crime of association that never existed.

· The probatory elements on facts subsequent to 1992 were not significant.