On October 22nd, 2011, Doctor Dieter Krombach, 76, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a French criminal court for killing Kalinka Bamberski in 1982. Again. A French criminal court had already sentenced Krombach in 1995 to 15 years. But he resided in Germany (where the alleged offence was also committed), and German authorities, after investigating the case, had dismissed the charges in the 1980s.
Krombach had thus not appeared before the French court in the first proceedings. French criminal procedure would not, at the time, allow his lawyer to represent him. After he was not only found guilty of killing the child, but also ordered to pay damages, he had sued France in Strasbourg, where France had been found to have violated Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights. When Andre Bamberski sought to enforce the civil judgment in Germany, the German court referred the case to Luxembourg. The European Court of Justice held that the violation of Article 6 was a ground for denying enforcement of the French judgment in Germany in one of its most important interpretative rulings of the Brussels Convention.
Krombach was thus protected by the combination of the border between Germany and France and the unfairness of French criminal procedure.
We have reported how, two years ago, Mr Bamberski decided to resolve the issue of the border by having Krombach kidnapped in Germany and delivered to French judicial authorities. Despite protests of German authorities, France decided to try Dr. Krombach again. The result is Saturday’s verdict.
So much for mutual trust. So much for the European single area of justice.