Brevity of James Quinn murder trial typical in Spain

Jury selection meant hearing of evidence essentially reduced to 2½ days

James Quinn’s trial for the murder of Gary Hutch (above) lasted just five days.  File photograph: Collins Photos

James Quinn’s trial for the murder of Gary Hutch (above) lasted just five days. File photograph: Collins Photos

 

James Quinn’s trial for the murder of Gary Hutch lasted just five days, with the evidence against him heard over three days before lawyers gave their closing speeches.

The speed of the process is normal in Spain, where murder trials have been known to take just a day. Typically, only complex fraud trials drag on for more than a few weeks.

Trials in Spain are open to the press and public, unlike the rest of the judicial process that comes before it. This includes lengthy investigations by examining judges, who carry out pre-trial inquiries into criminal allegations before deciding whether to recommend prosecutions.

The “investigative” stage of a criminal case can drag on for years, with suspects being held for long period in some cases.

Jury selection in Quinn’s trial – which saw 36 members of the public whittled down to nine main jurors and two substitutes – took up half of the first day, meaning the evidence was essentially reduced to 2½ days.

The only witnesses in the case were police, forensic experts, a technical expert in sound and vision, a gardener who lived in the gated estate where Gary Hutch was shot dead, and a woman who saw the getaway car being abandoned.

In contrast to the trial, every decision an examining magistrate makes – from remanding suspects in prison to whether they should be released before trial – has to be justified in writing and can be appealed by lawyers on both sides.

Suspects, witnesses and victims are questioned by examining magistrates at least once before trial – and as many times as the examining magistrates deem appropriate.