“When all’s said and done, in Italy, the Statute of Limitations is the safety net for the delinquents and it’s also one of the main causes of the courts being clogged up. Today, a delinquent who has blatantly been caught “red-handed” does everything possible to draw out the trial procedures to arrive at the desired objective: for the trial to collapse due to the Statute of Limitations. In fact, the Statute of Limitations should avoid the State being able to “wake up” at any time and go after a citizen for a crime committed, thirty years earlier, for example. Obviously, when the State starts to take action or when it sends someone for trial, (which means that it has been given the go-ahead by a prosecuting magistrate or a Judge for the Preliminary investigation) then it’s obvious that the Statute of Limitations must be suspended.
That’s what happens in nearly all of the rest of Europe, where, with different mechanisms, the Statute of Limitations is obviously suspended or interrupted for the duration of the trial. In France and Germany, it is interrupted by the investigation activities, for example, simply by a preliminary interview with a suspect. In the United Kingdom, the Statute of Limitations does not even exist. As soon as it gained saeats in Parliament, the M5S proposed the interruption of the Statute of Limitations as soon as someone is sent for trial - for as long as that trial is ongoing. It’s a simple and effective measure that would avoid many many injustices. When a crime runs out of time because of the Statute of Limitations, the State fails twice: once because it wasn’t able to discover the truth; and once more because all the effort of the judges, the lawyers, the court officials, the investigators and so on - is just thrown away - with an atrocious waste of public money.
From 2003 to 2013, about one and a half million trials disappeared into thin air because of the Statute of Limitations.
Among the numerous people that have taken advantage of the Statute of Limitations in various ways are business people and politicians (and these are just examples): De Benedetti, Moggi, Tanzi, Geronzi, Ricucci, Fazio, Caltagirone, Gelli, Berlusconi, Andreotti, Calderoli, D’Alema, Penati, Scajola).
Today, Wednesday, in Lucca, the families of the victims of Viareggio are going to court where a really efficient team of judges is racing against time to get to the truth. Unfortunately, it’s practically impossible that three levels of judgement can be concluded before the crimes fall out of time, due to the Statute of Limitations.
You can study thousands of pages of law, but there’s not even one that makes it possible to explain to Marco Piagentini who lost his wife (aged 40) and two children (aged 2 and 4) in the tragedy, that some crimes are about to “run out of time”. The time has come to stop this. On 29 August 2014, the premier announced the reform of the Statute of Limitations; on 20 November 2014, after the shameful Eternit case, once more the premier said: “The Statute of Limitations has to change. Justice has to be done. I am struck by the interviews with the families of the victims and they make me shiver. The families are so dignified, they beliee in the justice system, even more than some public servants do. It’s not posible to console a person for the death of someone they love. There’s no verdict that can do that. However, the idea of clutching at the justice system is for me somethig that involves endless suffering and beauty.“ Did he mean what he was saying, or was he just talking to get media coverage? Almost a year has gone by: the Statute of Limitations has not changed. The PD continues to say “no” to the M5S proposal! The Statute of Limitations must be interrupted at the moment someone is sent for trial: we are asking the government to keep to its commitments!”
Alfonso Bonafede, M5S Lower House