Criminal Appeals 7858 and 7860 - Right of public hearing - Can be limited in certain cases
Date of Judgment: 22.2.2007
The appellant was convicted by the Assize Court of the offences of rape and abduction and was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. He challenged his conviction and sentence by means of an appeal to the Supreme Court. He complained that there was breach of Article 30.2 of the Constitution since the evidence of the complainant was heard in camera.
The prosecution applied for the the proceedings to be taken in camera. The Assize Court ruled that the complainant would be sufficiently protected only if her evidence was given in camera. The appellant contents that the application should have been dismissed.
The Supreme Court in dismissing the appeals held that the right to a public trial is safeguarded by Article 30, paragraph 2, of the Constitution and Article 6 of the Convention. It noted that this right, however, is not an absolute one and it may be restricted. Article 30, provides that "the press and the public may be excluded from all or any part of the trial upon a decision of the Court where it is in the interest of the security of the Republic or the constitutional order or the public order or the public safety, or the public morals, or where the interests of juveniles, or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or, in special circumstances where, in the opinion of the Court, publicity would prejudice the interests of justice".
The Supreme Court also held that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, was received and considered by the Assize Court, with the special care required by a long established and generally followed judicial practice, when dealing with evidence in sexual cases.