While many Nigerians put dogs to no other use than their pots for dog meat pepper soups (404), The French legal system puts them to a better use besides preventing crimes or solving crimes. In what we the “saner people” of these climes will term oyinbo madness, France made legal history with the appearance of a dog as a prosecution witness in a murder case in 2008. Yeah! No be Joke oh! A French Judge Thomas Cassuto, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, presiding over a preliminary hearing to determine if there was sufficient evidence to order the launching of a full scale investigation, had allowed the dog’s “testimony” to be taken.
Named Scooby, the canine’s 59 year old owner had been found hanging from the ceiling in her flat 2 years earlier, with Scooby as the only witness at the time of death.The Police had earlier ruled the case to be an apparent suicide but the victim’s family had insisted it was a murder and thus the inquiry.So on the hearing day, Scooby the prosecution star witness was led to the witness box by a vet and the suspect presented to the canine. Meanwhile a court clerk was to “record all of the dog’s barks and to note its general behaviour throughout the cross-examination”. Scooby was said to have “barked furiously” at the suspect. Wait for this, the Judge was said to have praised the dog for “its general behaviour and invaluable assistance”. Are you kidding me! What if the suspect was a consumer of 404? You expect a cuddle from the dog for a consumer of its kind?
The very novel but controversial proceedings made headlines around the world, though it received a lot of knocks and caused quite a good laugh, it set the stage for more of such testimonies. In April 2014, another dog a nine year old Labrador named Tango took the stand to identify it’s owners alleged killer in Tours France. Quel est le probleme avec le Francais! The suspect in the case was told to make a gesture of trying to attack the canine with a bat. The suspect was to repeat the same gesture with another dog of the same breed called Norman, so the court could compare their reactions and determine if the suspect was the killer. Both dogs were said to have flinched on being threatened with a bat, making the inquiry inconclusive.
Dog testimonies in cases are not without criticisms. In the case of the Labrador’s testimony the Defence Lawyer Gregory Lafarge was reported to have urged the Court to disregard the dog’s testimony while describing it as an “unfair” and “setting a dangerous precedent”. Slamming the exercise, he asked “So if Tango lifted his right paw, moved his mouth or his tail, is he recognising my client or not? I find it very troubling for the French legal system. If a judge ignores the demands of reason and surrounds himself with experts who are unreasonable, well the system becomes very dangerous”, he warned.
So the lovers of 404 should be wary because with the popular belief that dogs are generally aggressive towards consumers of their kith and kin, don’t ever be charged for murder in a French court and the determination of your guilt or innocence lies in the testimony of a dog. You would be standing on a long thing!