Strange Justice

The NZ Herald reports that former National Party Member of Parliament Trevor Rogers has been jailed for failing to provide the court with design documents from a failed helicopter manufacturing company he used to own. The judge had this to say:

The evidence of Mr and Mrs Rogers that the (designs were) destroyed is not credible. Amongst other things, I do not believe that the most valuable asset of the company, and the asset that was most easily retained and hidden, would have been destroyed when large items were carefully hidden.

What I don’t understand is how you can jail someone for something you suspect he hasn’t done (i.e. provided documents that you believe exist) without any tangible evidence (since the court doesn’t have the documents and so can’t prove that they exist and therefore that he withheld them).

The guy may be totally guilty, but surely the onus is on the prosecution to actually prove that to some reasonable degree. I don’t see how you can do that in a case like this. For the judge to simply say that he doesn’t believe the defendant’s evidence is credible strikes me as a claim that the defendant is responsible for proving his own innocence and a reliance on a very subjective standard of judgment. It doesn’t make me feel very confident in the integrity of the system.

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