It sits before prosecutors, almost impossible to ignore, sometimes providing the most compelling evidence of guilt. But the Crown must present its case as though that material does not exist. The UK, alone in the world, denies its prosecutors the use of evidence which could support convictions for murder, drug dealing or sex offences merely because it is obtained through a phone intercept.
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Alternatively, the intercept material may reveal some potentially supportive evidence for the defendant, but it cannot be disclosed to him. So even if the prosecutors feel that they could answer that point, in order to ensure a fair trial the case may have to be discontinued.
Criminals who might be otherwise have been convicted walk free. Other aspects of our legal system are also distorted. In , Azelle Rodney was shot dead by police officers.
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His inquest cannot be completed. The rule against disclosure of telephone intercepts also applies in the coroner's court. If information from an intercepted call was the reason for officers' actions, the full circumstances of the death can never be made public. No one benefits from this: Azelle Rodney's family still do not know why the police felt it necessary to use deadly force and the officers are prevented from explaining themselves fully in an open hearing.
Everyone remains in the dark. Against that background, prosecutors, civil liberties groups and even defence lawyers have consistently called for the rule to be changed.
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But it is those who actually carry out telephone interceptions, such as GCHQ, who take a different view. For them, the real value of intercepting calls is for intelligence- gathering, not collecting evidence. They want to protect their work from the public scrutiny of court proceedings. Once again, their view has prevailed.
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However, the reasoning in last week's report — "Intercept as Evidence" — raises serious concerns. Surprisingly, the security services' traditional fears were not the highest concern.
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For example, the report concluded that intercepts could be used in court without intelligence techniques being exposed. Instead, the primary reason was that the retention and examination of intercept material would be too difficult. For any experienced criminal lawyer, this conclusion is not easy to understand.
Damir Arnaut, member of the defence team and legal advisor to the Bosniak member of Bosnian Presidency, told the court that while Ganic was fighting extradition, secret diplomatic efforts to ease the whole case were ongoing and offers were being made. The European Parliament has requested all countries in the region to adoption declarations condemning the genocide in Srebrenica. In , the Parliament adopted a declaration describing the events in Srebrenica in July , when Bosnian Serbs killed about 8, Bosniaks Bosnian Muslims , as the worst massacre in modern history in Europe and terming it genocide.
Arnaut said the Bosnian presidency had been invited to give a public statement praising the adoption of the Serbian declaration. In return, the UK Home Office would receive an oral message from Serbia saying that they did not object to the closure of the process if Ganic was immediately to return home and be banned from travelling outside Bosnia. More evidence contributed to the decision qualifying the process as politically motivated.
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Philip Alcock, a defence witness and a former international prosecutor in Bosnia who investigated the incident in Dobrovoljacka street, said he had never encountered any evidence linking Ganic to the bloodshed of May 2 and 3. Snezana Malovic, Serbian Minister of Justice, told the Belgrade daily Politika that such allegations were untrue and would not help efforts to achieve truth and reconciliation in the region.
Key Facts Omitted: British police arrested Ganic on March 1 this year at Heathrow airport in London, acting on an arrest warrant issued by Serbia that accused Ganic of involvement in war crimes committed in in Sarajevo. Archived from the original on Western Courier. Retrieved Aperture Foundation.
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