Beyond reasonable doubt

Notion(s) Filing Case
Appeal Judgement - 18.12.2014 NGIRABATWARE Augustin

19.       The Appeals Chamber notes that, in its Rule 98bis Decision, the Trial Chamber correctly recalled the applicable law.[1] With respect to Counts 1 and 5 of the Indictment, the Trial Chamber found that there was “evidence which, if accepted, could satisfy a reasonable trier of fact of Ngirabatware’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”.[2] In the Trial Judgement, the Trial Chamber granted the Prosecution’s request to withdraw the charge of conspiracy to commit genocide under Count 1,[3] and acquitted Ngirabatware of extermination as a crime against humanity under Count 5 of the Indictment.[4] In arguing that this is indicative of an error in the standard of proof applied by the Trial Chamber in its Rule 98bis Decision, Ngirabatware conflates the various evidentiary thresholds. As recalled above, a judgement of acquittal shall only be entered pursuant to Rule 98bis of the ICTR Rules if the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. At that stage a trial chamber is required to “assume that the prosecution’s evidence [is] entitled to credence unless incapable of belief” and “take the evidence at its highest”.[5] In contrast, pursuant to Rule 87 of the ICTR Rules, at the end of the trial a trial chamber may reach a finding of guilt only if it is satisfied that the guilt of the accused has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

20.       The standard “‘beyond reasonable doubt’ connotes that the evidence establishes a particular point and it is beyond dispute that any reasonable alternative is possible.”[6] It requires that the trial chamber be satisfied that there is no reasonable explanation of the evidence other than the guilt of the accused.[7] Accordingly, a dismissal of a request for a judgement of acquittal on a particular count at the close of the Prosecution case-in-chief is not incompatible with an acquittal of the accused on that same count at the end of the trial. In the same vein, a Prosecution’s decision to withdraw a charge at the end of the trial does not demonstrate that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction in relation to that charge at the close of the Prosecution case-in-chief.[8] Ngirabatware thus fails to show that the Trial Chamber erred in law or fact in failing to grant his Rule 98bis Motion in relation to Counts 1 and 5 of the Indictment.[9]

[1] Rule 98bis Decision [The Prosecutor v. Augustin Ngirabatware, Case No. ICTR-99-54-T, Decision on Defence Motion for Judgement of Acquittal, 14 October 2010], paras. 22-23, 25.

[2] Rule 98bis Decision, paras. 32, 46.

[3] Trial Judgement, para. 17.

[4] Trial Judgement, para. 1379.

[5] Karad`ić Rule 98bis Judgement [Prosecutor v. Radovan Karad`ić, Case No. IT-95-5/18-AR98bis.1, Judgement, 11 July 2013 ], para. 21, citing Jelisi} Appeal Judgement, para. 55.

[6] Mrk{i} and [ljivan~anin Appeal Judgement, para. 220.

[7] D. Milo{evi} Appeal Judgement, para. 20, citing Mrk{i} and [ljivan~anin Appeal Judgement, para. 220. See also Martić Appeal Judgement, para. 61.

[8] Concerning Ngirabatware’s submission that the Prosecution impermissibly proceeded in relation to Count 1 (See Appeal Brief [Dr. Ngirabatware’s Appeal Brief (confidential), 18 June 2013; Corrigendum to Dr. Ngirabatware’s Appeal Brief (confidential), 16 July 2013; Dr. Ngirabatware’s Appeal Brief (amended public redacted version), 1 August 2013], para. 273), the Appeals Chamber notes that Ngirabatware fails to show that the Prosecution did not intend to prove this count in the course of the trial. See Ntakirutimana Appeal Judgement, para. 43.

[9] The Appeals Chamber need not address Ngirabatware’s submission that the Trial Chamber erred in the Rule 98bis Decision by failing to provide a reasoned opinion in relation to Count 5 of the Indictment, as the alleged error does not impact on Ngirabatware’s conviction. See Reply Brief [ Dr. Ngirabatware’s Brief in Reply to Prosecution Respondent’s Brief (Pursuant to Rule 140 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence), 13 August 2013], para. 106(ii).

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ICTR Rule Rule 98 bis