Prisoners to be released following error by former Minister of Justice

Due to an error by a former Minister of Justice, the French authorities are currently re-examining the cases of just under 3,500 prisoners in order to establish whether the individuals concerned are being held in breach of the applicable limitation period.

The problem stems from a decree, signed a former Minister of Justice on 13 December 2004, providing for the interruption of the applicable limitation period through acts or decisions of the public prosecutor (ministère public) or a judge responsible for the application of sentences (juge d'application des peines). In fact, because the measure served to amend the French Code of Criminal Procedure, it should have been implemented by a law rather than a decree.

This mistake was corrected through a law dated 29 March 2012, meaning that anyone convicted after that date is unaffected. However, following a Cour de cassation decision of 26 June 2013, there are fears that tens and possibly hundreds of prisoners whose convictions depend upon the validity of the 2004 decree will be entitled to release – and potentially compensation for unlawful imprisonment.

Cooperation between French and Swiss Police in corruption investigation

It has emerged that the financial arm of the Paris Public Prosecutor's office has launched an investigation into possible organised money laundering (blanchiment en bande organisée) and corruption of foreign officials (corruption d'agent étranger) by individuals close to the daughter of the Uzbek President, in relation to alleged secret payments made by a Swedish telecommunications operator while establishing itself in Uzbekistan in 2007.

Suspicions were first aroused in Switzerland – where hundreds of millions of Swiss Francs have been frozen since last year – and, following a request for assistance from the Berne Public Prosecutor's Office, the French police searched a number of homes in France in mid-June.

As well as the ongoing investigations in France and Switzerland, a parallel investigation is also underway in Sweden.