Statutory Limitations in the Lebanese Criminal Law
Crimes in Lebanon have different statutes of limitations, “statutory limitation refers to the maximum time period during which a prosecutor can file criminal charges1”, e.g., in instantaneous crimes, if the statute of limitations for the offence is one year, the authorities have one year to file criminal charges for that crime.
Article 5 of the Lebanese Code of Criminal Procedure (“LCCP”) states that “the initiation of a public prosecution, the purpose of which is to prosecute the perpetrators of offences and the participants therein and to subject them to penalties and preventive measures, lies with the judges of the public prosecution office in accordance with this code. Whereas civil lawsuit for compensation for damages suffered as a result of an offence, can be initiated by every aggrieved party2(…)”.
Consequently, the jurisdiction to initiate public prosecution lies within the public prosecution office. If the public prosecution office has not done so, there is another way to initiate the public prosecution according to article 7 LCCP that mentions “[…] by filing a lawsuit, the aggrieved party initiates the public prosecution if the public prosecution office has not done so3”.
The importance of the public prosecution’s initiation is to interrupt the time limit of the crime and prevent it from going unpunished.
This article will tackle the statute of limitations in Lebanese criminal law and the related case law, highlighting the Lebanese authors’ opinions on the subject matter, before focusing on the application of statutory limitations to specific cases.
We shall therefore discuss about the legal provisions and the rationale behind the statute of limitations, the extinguishment of public prosecution, the interruption and tolling of the time limit, the statute of limitations and international crimes and the criminal rules regarding the statute of limitations.
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