Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Trial of Juan Luna. Paris 1892-1893 (And The Napoleonic Code. Article 324 )

Paris, France September, 1892, in a fit of rage with jealousy, Filipino painter Juan Luna shot his wife and mother in law at point blank. Luna claimed his wife was seeing a Frenchman and that they were lovers. He was subsequently arrested and held for almost half a year while the case against him was being heard. One claim of the defense that became an interesting point among historians and those who study the case, was the reality of Luna coming from a lower race and is susceptible to irrational acts, being a "sauvage" (savage/wild). February 1893, Luna was acquitted, the murder of his wife and mother in law was declared a crime of passion and owing it to the temporary insanity of Luna and him being a sauvage, he was given his freedom.

Juan Luna

The Napoleonic Code. Article 324
Actually, right from the very beginning of the procedure against Luna, the Tavera women would have no case because the very essence of the Napoleonic Code or "Civil des Français" (particularly that 1810 French Penal Code Article 324) and the prevailing norm of the society that time was "anti women". It gives leniency to the so called "honor killings". It permitted the murders of an unfaithful wife and her lover at the hand of her husband. In Luna's case, proving his innocence  was simply secondary, right from the start of the the trial the nature of the law is on his side.

The French Civil Code. Opening Page

The Napoleonic code- was established by Napoleon I in  1804, its core purpose was to uproot the existing feudal law but like all laws it must have had its own loopholes. The Penal Code Article 324 which was actually implemented in 1810, also greatly influenced if not reinforced the existing laws and traditions of many Middle East countries.
It was only in 1975 that France repealed Article 324.