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Precedent: Court accepts affidavit from absent crime victim

Thursday, July 25, 2019, 11:15 Sitting as a criminal appellate court, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a minor who requested that the court reduce his penalty and not take into consideration an affidavit submitted by the crime victim, who did not appear in court. The Supreme Court did accept the affidavit, even though the crime victim’s absence from the courtroom did not allow for cross-examination. Honenu regards this as an important precedent which validates the status of crime victims. The minor was accused of throwing large rocks, with friends, at a Jewish man in Jerusalem, causing him physical and emotional injury. The minor was convicted and sentenced to a three-month active prison sentence, three months suspended sentence and ordered to pay the victim 15,000 NIS in compensation. During the course of the deliberations the criminal appellate court received an affidavit from the crime victim, who was not capable of facing his assailants in court. The defendant’s attorney opposed the procedure on the grounds that it did not allow for cross-examining the crime victim, and pleaded that the affidavit should be rejected. The defendant’s attorney filed an appeal with the Supreme Court on the severity of the penalty, the sum of the compensation, and the acceptance of the affidavit in the absence of the crime victim. At one of the deliberations Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the crime victim and assisting him with realizing his rights as a crime victim, requested an opportunity to speak. Bleicher pleaded before the judges that according to the Rights of Victims of Crime Law, crime victims have the right to submit an affidavit without being cross-examined and without being present in court. The Supreme Court Justices, sitting as a criminal appellate court, rejected most of the appeal, upholding the penalty and the sum of the compensation, and ruled that the crime victim’s affidavit could be accepted in his absence. This is a precedent which allows many crime victims to voice their feelings before the court without having to face their assailants. The verdict states that, “There is no deficiency in relying on a crime victim’s affidavit, even without cross-examination, at least when the affidavit is brought in order to present subjective feelings regarding the injury caused by the crime.” Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing the plaintiff and assisting him with realizing his rights as a crime victim, stated that, “We are pleased with the court’s decision, which rejected the appeal by the defendant. The court validated the status of crime victims and their right to submit an affidavit without being interrogated about it. We, as an organization that assists many crime victims who have experienced terror attacks and other severely violent incidents, know that frequently it is difficult for crime victims to appear in court. An affidavit is sometimes the only way for them to present their feelings to the panel of judges. “The defendant filed an appeal on this right of a victim and we joined as respondents in order to uphold the right. We are pleased that the court did not close the door on crime victims and upheld the right as it was legislated in the Rights of Victims of Crime Law.”

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