Admissibility of evidence during cross-examination

Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on Admission of Exhibits - 15.04.2008 DELIĆ Rasim

The Prosecution sought to confront a Defence witness, during cross-examination, with two documents. Delić objected on the basis that these documents were not included in the list of exhibits the Prosecution intended to offer under Rule 65 ter(E)(iii) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Following the cross-examination of the witness on the content of the two documents, the Trial Chamber proceeded to admit them into evidence. Delić appealed the admission because it was done during the Defence case. The Appeals Chamber found:

20. According to Rule 89(C) of the Rules, a “Chamber may admit any relevant evidence which it deems to have probative value”. More specifically, Rule 90(F)(i) of the Rules states that a “Trial Chamber shall exercise control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to (i) make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth; and (ii) avoid needless consumption of time”.  Within the discretion afforded to it, a Trial Chamber may admit any evidence which it deems relevant and of probative value, provided that the right of the accused to a fair trial is ensured in the process.[1]

21. In the present case, the Prosecution contends that it could not have ascertained the importance of the Exhibits until Delić had disclosed its own list of witnesses pursuant to Rule 65 ter (G)(i). However, the Prosecution did not proceed to disclose the Exhibits immediately after this list was filed, but just prior to the beginning of the testimony of [the] witness […]

22. In these circumstances, the Appeals Chamber notes that the Impugned Decision does not clarify whether the Exhibits were admitted as evidence probative of guilt or only for impeachment purposes of the witness in question. This may cause confusion, prejudicing Delić in the organization of his case. According to the principles enshrined in the Statute – in particular in Article 21(4)(b) and (e) – on the rights of the accused, when evidence is tendered by the Prosecution there must be a fair opportunity for the accused to challenge it; this is all the more true if evidence is tendered after the close of the Prosecution case. In situations where the accused opposes the admission of evidence during cross-examination due to alleged breach of his right to a fair trial, a Trial Chamber must consider how it intends to strike the appropriate balance between the need to ensure the rights of the accused and its decision to admit such evidence.

23. The Trial Chamber therefore erred in not specifying the purpose for which the Exhibits were admitted despite the request by Delić and, consequently, in not addressing how the prejudice caused by the admission of the Exhibits, if any, could be redressed. Only after having considered the mode of disclosure of the documents in question, the purpose of their admission, the time elapsed between disclosure and examination of the witness, the languages known to Counsel and the accused, as well as any other relevant factual considerations, the Trial Chamber will be able to provide a reasoned opinion on the prejudice, if any, caused by the admission of the Exhibits and on the measures to address such prejudice – for example providing more time for cross-examination, adjourning the session, or granting the possibility of re-calling the witness if Delić shows it is necessary. Having failed to give sufficient weight to relevant considerations in reaching its decision, the Trial Chamber committed a discernible error.

[1] Rule 89(D) of the Rules.

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ICTR Rule Rule 89(C);
Rule 90(F)
ICTY Rule Rule 89(C);
Rule 90(F)