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French Police Unsure Which Twin To Charge In Sexual Assaults 626

Posted by timothy
from the ok-fellas-time's-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a real life Prisoner's Dilemma taking place in the French city of Marseille, twin brothers have been arrested for a string of sexual assaults. While say they are sure that one of them committed the crimes (corroborated by a standard DNA test), police were told that it would cost upwards of €1m euros (£850,000, $1.3m USD) to distinguish between them using DNA evidence."
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French Police Unsure Which Twin To Charge In Sexual Assaults

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:00PM (#42917789)

    "Prisoner's Dilemma" does not just mean "a dilemma involving prisoners"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      mind == blown!

    • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:24PM (#42918035) Journal
      It's the brothers that have the dilemma. Let's say both of them were committing these crimes:
      If both stay silent, maybe end up with time served 'cause they can't be sure it which of you it was.
      If one brother rats the other out (with convincing proof), he goes free while the other gets sentenced for all the crimes.
      If both rat the other out, each gets sentenced for his actual share of the crimes.
      • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:44PM (#42918267) Homepage Journal

        That is nonsense:
        If both stay silent, maybe end up with time served 'cause they can't be sure it which of you it was.
        You can not convict someone on that base.

        Supposed I was innocent. Then according to the DNA evidence my twin did it. When he and I stay silent, they still don't know who it was. So the first paragraph of all "constitutional states": innocent until proven otherwise comes to play.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by roc97007 (608802)

          That is nonsense:
          If both stay silent, maybe end up with time served 'cause they can't be sure it which of you it was.
          You can not convict someone on that base.

          Supposed I was innocent. Then according to the DNA evidence my twin did it. When he and I stay silent, they still don't know who it was. So the first paragraph of all "constitutional states": innocent until proven otherwise comes to play.

          I think you're right. Even in France.

          So given T-(rather short)-FA, it seems like the French authorities have two choices. (1) Go to court with what they have, and in all probability both twins will go free. (2) Pony up the money for a proper DNA test and convict the twin responsible.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by angel'o'sphere (80593)

            I assume both twins are guilty. With ovemr a dozen cases it looks like always one was commiting a crime and the other one tried to fabricate an alibi.

            • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday February 15, 2013 @09:42PM (#42919015) Journal

              I assume both twins are guilty. With ovemr a dozen cases it looks like always one was commiting a crime and the other one tried to fabricate an alibi.

              Doesn't change the solution. If both twins are guilty, a detailed DNA analysis will still be necessary to pin the correct crime to the correct twin. You don't get to be convicted just because you probably committed some of a list of crimes.

              • by hazah (807503)
                Wish that was true.
              • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Saturday February 16, 2013 @05:51PM (#42924281)

                I assume both twins are guilty. With ovemr a dozen cases it looks like always one was commiting a crime and the other one tried to fabricate an alibi.

                Doesn't change the solution. If both twins are guilty, a detailed DNA analysis will still be necessary to pin the correct crime to the correct twin. You don't get to be convicted just because you probably committed some of a list of crimes.

                Do the DNA test and get the right twin. And the other one goes to jail for perjury and harboring a criminal. Seems a win-win here, and will discourage anyone else from trying this tactic.

        • by farble1670 (803356) on Friday February 15, 2013 @09:06PM (#42918849)

          it doesn't matter which twin committed the sexual assault, they are both guilty. one is guilty of conspiracy because he's lying for the other, and the other is guilty of sexual assault.

          • by uncqual (836337) on Friday February 15, 2013 @09:52PM (#42919063)
            If only one twin is responsible for the rapes, how do we know that that the other knows he did them? Maybe all one knows is that he didn't do them and, of course, the other twin who is responsible would likely make the same claim falsely.
          • by stymy (1223496) <pdezuviria@@@gmail...com> on Friday February 15, 2013 @10:17PM (#42919155)
            How is one lying for the other? Presumably, they are both insisting they are innocent, and one of them actually is.
      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday February 15, 2013 @11:27PM (#42919515)

        If both stay silent, maybe end up with time served 'cause they can't be sure it which of you it was.

        Rubbish. Without proof both must be freed. There is no shared responsibility or punishment. "Unless someone owns up you all go without supper" isn't a legal principle.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Actually the principles of the prisoners dilemma started exactly in this kind of scenario. Two prisoners, police know one them did the crime but can't charge them.

      If the police actually have a lesser crime they can charge them both with and offer them a plea bargain then we are exactly in the prisoner's dilemma.

      Those a big IFs though.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Wrong, in the prisoner's dilemma both inmates are guilty. In this case however, if they both blame the other one they can still walk free because the police won't be able to tell which one of them did it.

  • Wouldn't it be a lot easier to get a confession by letting them know they had spent the money and proved it was (one or the other) them and then offer a deal for a plea , and a confession that matches the evidence? Maybe I am missing something. Of course they could just spend the money, it's not like 1mil is some huge sum in the scheme of things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by terrab0t (559047)

      I am not a French Lawyer, but I think that would be coercion.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:08PM (#42917869) Journal

    I have always wondered what would happen when this type of suspect turned up.(suspect having an identical twin)

    Every set of identical twins I have known, has deliberately used the 'identity confusion' at some point.

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:36PM (#42918191)

      Identical twins isn't the interesting case. It's the conjoined twins that are the real puzzle. Suppose there are a pair of conjoined twins. One is an artist and hates computers, one is a programmer and hates art. Everybody knows this and will testify to the fact. When the artist goes to sleep, the programmer whips out a laptop and hacks into the Pentagon. He gets caught, gets arrested, and admits guilt... what are you going to do, imprison him?

      • by jd (1658)

        Easy. Move to a system that focuses more on rehabilitation, retraining and (when an external element is a factor) removal of external factors contributing to the criminality. You still isolate from society (the sole benefit of prison) but with reduced or eliminated punitive element, there is no risk of punishing an innocent person who happens to be cojoined to someone who is guilty.

      • by bitt3n (941736)

        Identical twins isn't the interesting case. It's the conjoined twins that are the real puzzle. Suppose there are a pair of conjoined twins. One is an artist and hates computers, one is a programmer and hates art. Everybody knows this and will testify to the fact. When the artist goes to sleep, the programmer whips out a laptop and hacks into the Pentagon. He gets caught, gets arrested, and admits guilt... what are you going to do, imprison him?

        imprison him in an art museum

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If AC actually bothered to read the definition of the prisoner's dilemma he would have determined that this is not the same situation. Sounds good, but wrong. You have two individuals, both know who the guilty party is. The best strategy for each to play is to proclaim their innocence.

  • by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:17PM (#42917977)

    Just charge the one with the goatee.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:21PM (#42918009) Journal

    While '1 million euros' is a big scary number(and certainly higher than evidence handling for more prosaic cases), it isn't exactly free to have a bunch of cops go around swabbing at evidence, a judge, some lawyers, a jury, etc. Processing a case, especially a serious criminal case, just isn't inexpensive. Given the existing acceptance of the relatively high cost of justice, it seems strange to wring hands about an abnormally high cost cropping up in an abnormal case.

    Even if justice didn't demand it, it seems like it would be trivially sensible to just quietly pay what it costs to get the DNA analyzed properly, if only to deter others from trying to get cute.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:24PM (#42918031) Journal

    Saw this on an episode of Law & Order Special Victims Unit.

    And they say television isn't educational...

  • by CB-in-Tokyo (692617) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:52PM (#42918361) Homepage

    The justice system shouldn't be haggling over price.

    They have suspects they are sure that did it. They have a method of determining which one, but they are dicking around because of cost?

    Unacceptable.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      The justice system shouldn't be haggling over price.

      They have suspects they are sure that did it. They have a method of determining which one, but they are dicking around because of cost?

      Unacceptable.

      Totally unacceptable. The possibilities are:

      1. Let both men go free. Assaults will continue. And the innocent brother (assuming one is innocent) will be an outcast (so will the guilty one, but he deserves it so we don't care about him).

      2. Imprison both men. Also unacceptable. Even if it turned out both are guilty it still needs to be proven.

      3. Do the tests. Guilty party pays costs (TFS doesn't say if they are a millionaire or not, but lets assume they are). Justice is done.

      The only problem is if the

      • by CB-in-Tokyo (692617) on Saturday February 16, 2013 @12:39AM (#42919759) Homepage

        Option 4.The government pays for the test and justice is served. A million bucks is not a huge amount when we are talking about government budgets.

        You are right though, there is a an amount and a level of certainty where it doesn't make sense to do the test, but a million bucks to keep a serial rapist (or perhaps two) off the streets, would likely pay for itself.

  • by seebs (15766) on Friday February 15, 2013 @09:07PM (#42918853) Homepage

    It's not as though it's unheard of for identical twins to have similar hobbies...

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Saturday February 16, 2013 @02:02AM (#42920133) Homepage
    Have we forgotten about simple things like, for example, establishing who was where and when?  You know, alibis?

    If it's a "string" of rapes, surely one of the brothers has an alibi for one of them, at least?

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