The prosecuting magistrate in one of France’s most grave judicial fiascos will today appear before a parliamentary inquiry examining how 13 people were wrongfully jailed on paedophile charges.
Judge Fabrice Burgaud will testify before the commission in the presence of those whose lives the case ruined. They were detained for up to four years on flimsy evidence and the false accusations of one women. She, her husband and another couple were the only ones not to be acquitted of child abuse in the now infamous Outreau case.
One of the accused committed suicide in jail, others lost their jobs and their marriages. In most cases their children were taken into care. The case finally collapsed after the woman making the accusations admitted in court she had been lying.
During evidence to the inquiry the victims said they had been humiliated and bullied by Burgaud. The affair caused an outcry in France and fuelled calls for far-reaching reform of the country’s legal system.
President Jacques Chirac apologised to the Outreau 13 in December, describing the case as “an unprecedented judicial disaster.”