Single witness

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Appeal Judgement - 19.07.2010 HARADINAJ et al.

145. The Appeals Chamber recalls that a Trial Chamber may enter a conviction on the “basis of a single witness, although such evidence must be assessed with the appropriate caution, and care must be taken to guard against the exercise of an underlying motive on the part of the witness.”[1] The Appeals Chamber further recalls that “a Trial Chamber should at least briefly explain why it accepted the evidence of witnesses who may have had motives or incentives to implicate the accused; in this way, a Trial Chamber shows its cautious assessment of this evidence.”[2] [see also para. 242 of the Appeals Judgement]

219. The Appeals Chamber recalls that a Trial Chamber is at liberty to rely on the evidence of a single witness when making its findings.[3] The testimony of a single witness may be accepted without the need for corroboration, even if it relates to a material fact.[4] […]

[1] Kordić and Čerkez Appeal Judgement, para. 274.

[2] Krajišnik Appeal Judgement, para. 146.

[3] Kupreškić et al. Appeal Judgement, para. 33.

[4] Tadić Appeal Judgement, para. 65; Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, para. 62; Čelebići Appeal Judgement, paras 492, 506; Kayishema and Ruzindana Appeal Judgement, para. 154.

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Appeal Judgement - 15.07.1999 TADIĆ Duško

65. The Appeals Chamber notes that it has been the practice of this Tribunal and of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (“ICTR”)[1] to accept as evidence the testimony of a single witness on a material fact without need for corroboration. […]  

[1] More fully, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens responsible for genocide and other such violations committed in the territory of neighbouring States, between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.

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Appeal Judgement - 24.03.2000 ALEKSOVSKI Zlatko

63. Trial Chambers are best placed to hear, assess and weigh the evidence, including witness testimonies, presented at trial.  Whether a Trial Chamber will rely on single witness testimony as proof of a material fact, will depend on various factors that have to be assessed in the circumstances of each case.[1]  In a similar vein, it is for a Trial Chamber to consider whether a witness is reliable and whether evidence presented is credible.  The Appeals Chamber, therefore, has to give a margin of deference to the Trial Chamber’s evaluation of the evidence presented at trial.  The Appeals Chamber may overturn the Trial Chamber’s finding of fact only where the evidence relied on could not have been accepted by any reasonable tribunal[2] or where the evaluation of the evidence is wholly erroneous.

[1] Tadi} Judgement, para. 65.

[2] Ibid.

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Appeal Judgement - 04.12.2001 KAYISHEMA & RUZINDANA

154.    […] [T]he Appeals Chamber concurs with the opinion of ICTY Appeals Chamber that the testimony of a witness on a material fact may be accepted as evidence without the need for corroboration.[1]


322.    The Appeals Chamber reiterates[2] that accepting as evidence the uncorroborated testimony of a witness does not in itself constitute an error.[3]

See also para. 187.

[1] Tadić Appeal Judgement, para. 65, Aleksovski Appeal Judgement, para. 62, and Čelebiči Appeal Judgement, paras 492 and 506.

[2] Tadić Appeal Judgement, para. 65 in fine.

[3] Reference to Ruzindana’s allegation in his Brief, para. 42 (witness FF-Bisesero Hill ) and paras. 55 and 56 (witness KK and MM- Gitwa cellule).

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