Socrates ‘not guilty’

25 May 12

Michael Beloff QC and French advocate Patrick Simon represented the Greek philosopher, Socrates, at a re-enactment of his trial of 399 BC.  This time, the elite of the international legal world together with the audience, found Socrates not guilty by a substantial majority.

Ilias Anagnostopoulos, deputy professor of Penal and Criminology Studies, and Antonis Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation acted for the city of Athens.  The re-enactment was the initiative of the Onassis Foundation and sought to re-examine the social and legal questions in the case.

Counsel for the Greek philosopher, Michael Beloff QC and Patrick Simon stressed that ideas should not be criminalised. "To express an opinion is not a crime. Socrates did not believe in democracy – he was a sceptic – but he also didn’t believe in oligarchy. There is not a single shred of evidence of his participation in a violent act". However, the phrase that seems to have functioned as a catalyst for the jurors was: "It is in your hands for them not to be able to say that this city murdered its greatest philosopher."

The distinguished members of the court included Lord Justice Aikens and former Court of Appeal judge Sir Stephen Sedley representing the UK, French Conseil d’Etat judge Sophie-Caroline De Margerie, French Academy of Moral and Political Science member Pierre Delvolve, Swiss Court of Appeal Vice President Stephan Gass, former President of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court Dr Giusep Nay, Southern District of New York Chief Judge Loretta Preska, criminal law professor emeritus and former Greek Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki, former Athens Supreme Court Vice President Vasilleios Rigas, French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences member Francois Terre and University of Tuebingen law professor Harm Peter Westermann.

Michael Beloff QC’s defence can be read in full:  The Defence of Socrates.doc (67 kb) .

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Michael Beloff QC

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