Justice delayed is justice denied

People arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime expect to be promptly brought before a court of law, tried and either convicted or acquitted.

People arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime expect to be promptly brought before a court of law, tried and either convicted or acquitted.

This inalienable right is enshrined in the constitution of our democratic country and specifically upholds the individual's right to a speedy and fair trial in line with the rules of justice.

But this was not to be for Angolan businessman Sergio Joao Christiano, arrested in 1999 on various charges, including the serious counts of rape and attempted murder.

After awaiting trial for nearly seven-and-a-half years, and driven to attempt tocommit suicide out of frustration, Christiano was finally afforded his day in court this week.

And the verdict? Not guilty on all nine charges.

A shame and travesty of justice.

Not only has the unsavoury episode compromised the integrity of our criminal justice system but it has also exposed administrative inertia that will continue to put a spoke in the wheels of justice if left unchecked. Underscoring the lapses is the revelation that the Angolan appeared more than 70 times in various courts within the country - for seven years.

This is outrageous. Those responsible for his long and illegal incarceration should hang their heads in shame.

Justice delayed is justice denied - even for non-citizens.

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