Fiches Belges
Measure Implementation
Measure possibility

Legal Framework
Applicable Framework

Competent authority
Request/decision
Execute/recognise measure

Accepted Languages
Languages

Execution Deadline
Deadlines

Legal info
Special requirements
Other information

Fiches Belges: Belgium

Hearing witnesses: standard procedure (702)

1. MEASURE IMPLEMENTATION

Belgium

Is this measure possible in your Member State under International Judicial Cooperation?

Yes. This measure involves the hearing of witnesses during the preliminary stages of the criminal procedure.

2. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Belgium

International legal framework applicable for this measure in your Member State

Convention of 29th May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union, and its Protocol of 16th October 2001; Benelux Treaty on Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of 27th June 1962, and its Protocol of 11th May 1974 (for the Netherlands and Luxembourg); European Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters of 20th April 1959 and its additional Protocol of 17th March 1978

3. COMPETENT AUTHORITY TO:

Belgium

* receive the request/decision for judicial cooperation

The letter of request has to be sent to the local public prosecutor's office of the geographical area where the investigating measure has to be executed. if this area is not known, the letter of request has to be sent to the federal prosecutor's office - section of international cooperation.

* execute/recognise the measure (if other than the receiving authority)

The public prosecutor or the delegated judicial police officer. The investigating judge if the witness has to be heard under oath.

4. ACCEPTED LANGUAGES

Belgium

Accepted languages for the request/decision

Dutch, French and German Important remarks: before the execution, the letter of request will be translated by the Belgian prosecutor if the language is not the language of the judicial area where the letter of request has to be executed. It is recommended, when possible, to obtain previously the information about the correct language.

5. EXECUTION DEADLINE

Belgium

Deadlines for the execution of the request/decision (where applicable)

There is no specific deadline foreseen by the Belgian law for the execution of letters of request. If the requested deadline cannot been respected the requesting state will be informed accordingly.

6. CONCISE LEGAL PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Belgium

a. Special requirements

Content of the international letters rogatory: at least Article 14 of the 1959 Convention. It is important to indicate in the letter of request whether: - the oath is needed for the hearing of the witness; - a defence lawyer has to be present. At the information and examination stage, the person heard in whatever capacity enjoys certain rights (Arts 47 II, §1 and 70 II of the Criminal Investigation Code): 1. At the start of any hearing, a brief statement of the facts subject to the hearing is given and the person being questioned is told that: - he may request that all questions put to him and all his replies be placed on record in the terms employed; - he may request a examination measure or certain hearing to be effected; - his statements may be used in evidence; - he is not obliged to accuse himself; All these elements are mentioned in an official record. 2. Any person questioned may use the documents in his possession, but this may not cause the interrogation to be adjourned. He may, at the time of the interrogation or subsequently, demand that these documents be attached to the official record of the hearing or filed at the registry. 3. The record mentions the precise time at which the examination begins, any interruption and resumption, and the time at which it ends. It mentions the precise identity of the persons participating in the hearing or part of it, and the time of their arrival and departure. It also mentions the special circumstances and anything from a particular day which may clarify the statement or the circumstances in which it was made. 4. At the end of the hearing, the record is given to the person questioned to read, unless he asks for it to be read out to him. He is asked whether any corrections or additions need to be made to his statements. 5. If the person questioned wishes to express himself in a language differing from that of the proceedings, either a sworn interpreter is called upon, or the person's statements are recorded in his language, or he is requested to record his statement himself. If the interrogation takes place with the assistance of an interpreter, the latter's identity and status are mentioned. Hearing by the investigating judge: The investigating judge may choose whether to hear a witness under oath or not (but see below). If this is not the case, he will hear the witness in his capacity as criminal investigation officer to obtain a statement for information. Refusal to take an oath is treated as a refusal to appear and may incur the penalty provided for in Art. 80 CIC (Any person summoned to give evidence will be required to appear before the court and to comply with the summons: otherwise he may be compelled to do so by the investigating judge, who will duly - on the public prosecutor's submissions, without any other formality or time limit, and without appeal - impose a fine not exceeding thousand euro, and may order the person summoned to be forcibly detained in order to give evidence). A witness wishing to remain anonymous may not be heard under oath. His statements will therefore be valid only for information purposes. The witness's statements and documents are reproduced in the form of an official record signed by the investigating judge and registrar. If he wishes to do so, the witness signs the record after he has read it through and declared that he adheres to his statement. He may still add any clarifications or corrections he wishes. These are mentioned at the end of the document.

b. Other useful information

The presence of the requesting judicial authority and/or investigators can be allowed. This has to be requested explicitly in the letter of request.

Last reviewed on 3 March 2017 by EJN Secretariat

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