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Britain OKs Jeopardy Law Reform

November 21, 2003|From Associated Press

LONDON — The British Parliament on Thursday approved legislation to overturn "double jeopardy" protection for offenses such as murder, rape and armed robbery.

The centuries-old legal rule prevents suspects from being tried twice for a crime, and it is enshrined in the legal codes of many of Britain's former colonies, including the United States.

Under the Criminal Justice Bill, introduced by Prime Minister Tony Blair's government last year, a person acquitted of certain serious offenses, including rape and murder, would face a second trial if compelling new details, such as DNA evidence, come to light.

The legislation, hailed by the government as the biggest reform of Britain's criminal justice system in a generation, now needs only royal assent, which is virtually automatic, before it becomes law.

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