In a shocking turn of events, the Government has dropped all charges last week against Ma la Mha (Baron Hooligan and Count Thord) and Timoþi Asmourescu in the ongoing corruption case against the pair. The case had dragged on for nine months with virtually no progress thanks to changes in the prosecution and the presiding magistrate, only to be unceremoniously abandoned by the appointed prosecutor, M.T. da Biondeu. Talossans of every stripe have broadly agreed that the result was a sad miscarriage of justice, although opinons differ as to why. The presiding magistrate, Owen Edwards, noted, the Government's case against Mha had "tarr[ed] the name of the defendant with serious charges - charges so serious that he ought either to be punished or fully exonerated, as the case may be." And as for Asmourescu, he had actually made a public confession of his crimes and launched the entire process with accusations against Mha and His Majesty the King, but will now walk free of all charges. Even the prosecutor agreed that the entire case had been a "terrific mess."
Biondeu's statement was brief. After apologizing for his tardiness, the prosecutor stated only, "At this time the government is dropping all charges against any and all defendants in this case. We feel at this time, after many delays and disappearances, that is best we just accept this situation as a learning lesson for all parties involved." Justice Edwards (recently ascended to the Cort Pü Inalt, but still handling the case) blasted the Government statement, writing, "[T]hat the Crown takes it upon itself to judge when lessons have been learned and when justice has been done is outrageous! The job of the Corts is to adjudicate such matters," and admonishing the Government that "must be rather more thoughtful and careful in future cases, as it has demonstrated a disgraceful carelessness in this one."
When reached for comment, Biondeu defended the Government's actions, saying that, "After evaluation, we have decided that it is in the best interest of all parties to drop the case." When asked whether or not the Government would apologize to any of those involved for the way the case was handled, which he admits was complicated by "many delays," Biondeu stated, "I do not feel an apology is in order. Both defendants know that their actions betrayed the trust of the Kingdom."
On the other hand, Biondeu admitted he had never been very convinced of the charges, even as he prosecuted them, saying, "Personally, I do not feel the case had much weight. The situation is very questionable and demonstrates some undesirable traits... but that doesn't mean its illegal."
Counsel for Ma la Mha, Sir C. M. Siervicül, stated in response, "It seems to me that a prosecutor who brings or maintains charges without being confident that the specific charges are legally warranted and supported by evidence proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt has betrayed the trust of the public. ... [A] government that pursues an unwarranted criminal prosecution ought to apologise to the wrongfully-prosecuted citizen -- especially a government that claims to esteem individual freedom and civil liberties."
The timing of the decision also may be worth noting, coming soon after the election concluded, as figures like Distain and Membra dal Cosa Dama Miestrâ Schivâ, UrN have spent months pointing to the proceedings as evidence of the corruption of the RUMP and of King John, referring to the case during debates in the Ziu as "patronage-trading" and "behind-the-scenes chicanery," and even going so far as to declare in her role as leader of the ZRT that it would be a condition of any coalition that the case would be required to proceed. The Government has not made any further comment on the case beyond the prosecutor's statement in cort.
The affair might not entirely be finished. Since Justice Edwards dissolved the prosecution's plea agreement with Asmourescu, explicitly commenting that the corresponding charges were dropped without prejudice, it is possible that a case may be brought against Asmourescu once more on the basis of his public confession to subvert the justice system from his former position on the Cort Pü Inalt. Another possibility is that Mha might bring defamation charges against Asmourescu in order to seek the public airing and exoneration that he has now been denied. At press time, Siervicül had no comment that possibility, saying that he would need to consult with his client, but did have harsh words for the Government's behavior overall, stating, "[A]ny party in government that claims to be monarchist yet consented to accusing His Majesty the King of participation in a felony conspiracy, based upon uncharitable inferences from flimsy evidence and without affording His Majesty any opportunity to defend himself, owes His Majesty an apology for this discourtesy and lack of respect. For such a thing to be done in the name of the Crown is shameful."
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