Cumulative effect of defects

Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 14.12.2015 NYIRAMASUHUKO et al. (Butare)

1276.            The Appeals Chamber rejects Ntahobali’s claim that the Trial Chamber applied the wrong legal criterion in evaluating the cumulative effect of the defects in the Indictment. Although the Trial Chamber mainly relied on its finding that the defects of the Indictment concerning allegations on which it made factual findings were cured, its analysis reflects that it did not limit its examination to this matter but, in accordance with the jurisprudence that it expressly recalled, examined whether the Defence had sufficient time and resources to investigate properly all the new material facts and that it was not prejudiced by the addition of numerous material facts. The Appeals Chamber refers in particular to the Trial Chamber’s reliance on the additional time allotted to the co-Accused to prepare their case[1] and its findings throughout the Trial Judgement that, where remedied, the original lack of notice had not caused prejudice.[2]

1277.            The Appeals Chamber also finds no merit in Ntahobali’s argument that the number of defects in an indictment that can be cured is limited. The Appeals Chamber considers that, in instances where it is found that defective charges have not only been cured but also that the initial lack of notice did not result in prejudice, the question of the number of defects cured becomes secondary. It is clear from the Appeals Chamber’s jurisprudence that the key question remains whether or not the accused was materially prejudiced in the preparation of his defence.[3]

[1] Trial Judgement, para. 130.

[2] See, e.g., Trial Judgement, paras. 1464, 2166, 2932, 2942, 3161.

[3] See Bagosora et al. Appeal Decision on Exclusion of Evidence [The Prosecutor v. Théoneste Bagosora et al., Case No. ICTR-98-41-AR73, Decision on Aloys Ntabakuze’s Interlocutory Appeal on Questions of Law Raised by the 29 June 2006 Trial Chamber I Decision on Motion for Exclusion of Evidence, 18 September 2006], para. 26:

[…] Further, while the addition of a few material facts may not prejudice the Defence in the preparation of its case, the addition of numerous material facts increases the risk of prejudice as the Defence may not have sufficient time and resources to investigate properly all the new material facts. Thus, where a Trial Chamber considers that a defective indictment has been subsequently cured by the Prosecution, it should further consider whether the extent of the defects in the indictment materially prejudice an accused’s right to a fair trial by hindering the preparation of a proper defence.

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