Evidence of a witness who commits suicide

Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on Evidence of Milan Babić - 14.09.2006 MARTIĆ Milan

27. […] Relying on Wigmore’s Evidence in Trials at Common Law,[1] the Appellant concludes that because Milan Babić’s death, which resulted in the prevention or curtailment of the cross-examination of his evidence, was caused by “the voluntary act of the witness himself,” namely his suicide, the examination-in-chief must be struck out.[2]

29. […] In his appeal, armed with the Report’s finding that Milan Babić did in fact commit suicide, the Appellant attempts to rely on Wigmore for the general principle that evidence given by a witness in direct examination who commits suicide prior to, or during his cross-examination, should be excluded.

30. The Appeals Chamber concludes that the International Tribunal need not adopt this approach and finds that, despite Milan Babić’s death having been ruled a suicide, it remained within the Trial Chamber’s discretion to retain the evidence of Milan Babić on the basis that the interruption of his cross-examination, the majority of which had been completed, was unforeseeable and unavoidable.

[1] John Henry Wigmore, Evidence in Trials at Common Law (Boston: Little Brown, 1974) Vol. 5 §1390, p. 134, citing Kemble v. Lyons, 184 Iowa 804, 169 N.W. 117 (1918); Sperry v. Moore’s Estate, 42 Mich. 353, 361, 4 N.W. 13, 19 (1880); Forrest v. Kissam, 7 Hill 470 (N.Y. 1844) (“Wigmore”).

[2] Interlocutory Appeal, para. 30.

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