Participation by video-conference

Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on the Course of Proceedings - 16.05.2008 STANIŠIĆ & SIMATOVIĆ
(IT-03-69-AR73.2)

15. The Appeals Chamber recalls that in the Impugned Decision, the Trial Chamber found that derogation from the right of the Accused to be present at trial was warranted given that his health condition regularly interferes with the right to a fair and expeditious trial.  The Prosecution correctly points out that derogation from the right to be present is reasonable under some circumstances and that derogation may be justified even on the basis of substantial trial disruptions on the part of an accused that are unintentional in nature.  The question before the Appeals Chamber is whether derogation from the right to be present through the establishment of a video-conference link that enables the Accused to participate in his trial from the UNDU was reasonable under the circumstances of this case.

16. The Appeals Chamber observes that in determining whether derogation from the Accused’s right to be present at trial was justified, the Trial Chamber considered the proportionality principle.[3]  Specifically, the Trial Chamber noted that any restrictions on a fundamental right “must be the least intrusive instrument amongst those which might achieve the desired result.”[4]  The Trial Chamber further considered that in the Zigiranyirazo Decision, the Appeals Chamber held that the need to ensure a reasonably expeditious trial is an objective of general importance and accordingly concluded that its task in the instant case was to “strike an appropriate balance between the reasonably expeditious resolution of the case and the need to protect the Accused’s right to be present at his trial.”[5]

18. The Appeals Chamber considers that in determining the future course of the proceedings in this case, the Trial Chamber’s decision to balance the right of the Accused to be present with the right of both the Accused and his co-Accused to an expeditious trial was reasonable. […] 

19. The Appeals Chamber emphasizes that the right to be present is a fundamental right, and although the Prosecution correctly points out that derogation from this right may be warranted in light of substantial trial delays, the Appeals Chamber agrees with the Defence that derogation is not appropriate when reasonable alternatives exist.  The Appeals Chamber notes that in choosing to establish the video-conference link, the Trial Chamber excluded other potential options, including, as the Prosecution observes, allowing the case to remain in the pre-trial phase for three to six months.[6]  The Appeals Chamber considers that, given the existence of this reasonable alternative, which could potentially secure the Accused’s ability to fully exercise his right to be present at trial within a relatively short period of time, the Trial Chamber erred in choosing an alternative that restricted this right. 

20. The Appeals Chamber further notes that in establishing the video-conference link to enable the Accused to participate in the proceedings from the UNDU when he is too unwell to physically attend court, the Trial Chamber failed to consider whether, given his physical and mental state, he would nevertheless be able to effectively participate in his trial via the video-conference link.  The Appeals Chamber finds that a reasonable Trial Chamber would have considered this factor in its decision and accordingly finds that the Trial Chamber’s failure to do so amounts to a discernible error.

[1] Impugned Decision [Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, Case No. IT-03-69-PT, Decision on Future Course of Proceedings, 9 April 2008], para. 15.

[2] Prosecution Response [Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, Case No. IT-03-69-AR73.2, Prosecution’s Response to “Defence Appeal of the Decision on Future Course of Proceedings,” filed publicly with confidential annex, 5 May 2008], para. 45.

[3] Impugned Decision, para. 10.

[4] Impugned Decision, para. 10 (citing the United Nations Human Rights Committee, compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, HRI/GEN/1/rev.6, 12 May 2003, p. 176).

[5] Impugned Decision, para. 11.

[6] Prosecution Response [Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, Case No. IT-03-69-AR73.2, Prosecution’s Response to “Defence Appeal of the Decision on Future Course of Proceedings,” filed publicly with confidential annex, 5 May 2008 ], para. 33.

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