The Attorney-General, Magniloqueu Épiqeu da Lhiun, filed criminal charges against both His Majesty, King John, and the Lord Hooligan (Ma la Mha, Count Thord) this past week. While neither the accused parties nor government officials would provide details, conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official is one rumored charge. The decision to prosecute at this time is extremely unusual, since past Seneschals have been hesitant to take broad or controversial actions during the time between Cosas.

The charges stem from the Asmourescu Papers (see last fortnight's Beric'ht for the story) and Timoþí Asmourescu's allegations that he was the central figure in a conspiracy against Eiric S. Börnatfiglheu, during an investigation of last year's ESB Affair. Asmourescu was a seated justice on the Uppermost Court during the Affair, and alleges that he hid his involvement in the investigation of Börnatfiglheu so that he would not have to recuse himself during the trial. Releasing a variety of private conversations around that time, Asmourescu stated that he thought that he would be rewarded for his actions by His Majesty the King. "I was further driven by a desire to receive the accolades I felt I deserved," Asmourescu wrote.
Until the charges are made public, it is unknown what evidence might substantiate these allegations. During the release of the Asmourescu Papers, Asmourescu pointed to an exchange that he had with Lord Hooligan in which Hooligan had celebrated Asmourescu's investigating efforts and success in uncovering the seventeen fraudulent "citizens" of the ESB Affair. Hooligan praised Asmourescu, saying in part, “I trust he will act as a King should toward one of his best and most faithful subjects.” While this might seem like thin evidence, it seems likely that Asmourescu is enthusiastically cooperating with the Attorney-General's prosecution, and so there might be more testimony forthcoming.

His Majesty the King strongly denied the suggestion of any impropriety on his part at the time of the Asmourescu Papers, pointing out that much of the discussion in the leaked documents indicates that he was unaware of Asmourescu's involvement at the time. Lord Hooligan joined him in rebuffing the charges, releasing a statement to Beric'ht through his attorney:
I was happy to cooperate with reasonable inquiries into the circumstances behind last month's leak of private correspondence regarding my role in the 1) discovery of the Börnatfiglheu affair. I

am disappointed that the Government instead decided to rush into an ill-advised and overreaching criminal prosecution. The charges filed by the Government are baseless, and I will be contesting them vigorously. I have retained counsel to speak for me publicly, as I don't believe the charges merit any further public statement by me. Sir Cresti Siervicül will defend my case against the government's prosecutors before His Majesty's Courts, and he is available to the press and public for all further inquiries. I am as available as ever to speak with any Talossan privately about anything, but as this is a legal matter, Sir Cresti will be issuing any further public statements regarding the formal charges and making any necessary court filings on my behalf.

The Attorney-General did not reply to repeated requests for comment, but Seneschal da Dhi was able to confirm that charges had been filed. He stated that he "did not pressure the Attorney-General to do this so quickly," but that there had been a "general consensus" in the Government that they would file charges at some point. He was quick to add that, even though he might not have put it on the agenda, he was the Seneschal and bore ultimate responsibility for the actions of his Attorney-General, whom he supported. The Seneschal was unable to say whether or not Distain Dame Miestrâ Schivâ had any role in the proceedings, so for the time being, it seems that the decision to file charges at this time were made by the Attorney-General.

The decision was unusual. In the eyes of most past governments, the legitimacy of their power came from a mandate of the people. Equally important was the role of the Cosa in exercising an important check against the Seneschal's authority, since the Cosa is able to over-rule or remove the Seneschal with a two-thirds vote. At a time when the current Government lost a Vote of Confidence in the Cosa, and when elections are nearly finished, it is unusual that the Attorney-General decided to press ahead and file charges with such speed.
The outcome of the case is uncertain. The Magistracy has not yet received the charges, and may choose not to accept them if Chief Magistrate Owen Edwards feels that the included evidence would not lead to a reasonable chance of conviction. However, as it seems unlikely that there would be any additional evidence beyond the testimony of S:reu Asmourescu, the best hope for success for the Attorney-General may have lain in the questioning of the accused this past week.

The election presents an unusual dilemma, whichever way the case turns out: how should the prosecution continue? Lacking popular support, the Government that brought the charges has fallen. To what extent is a newly-elected Government obliged to continue the prosecution? Who should continue it? There is no clear precedent or easy answer... the Kingdom waits to see.


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