231/99 : Avocats Sans Frontières (on behalf of Gaëtan Bwampamye) / Burundi Summary of Facts 1. Lawyers Fabien Segatwa, Moussa Coulibaly and Cédric Vergauwen, respectively called to the bars of Burundi, Niger and Brussels and members of ‘‘Avocats Sans Frontières’’ in Burundi, and acting on behalf of Mr Gaetan Bwampamye, currently detained at the Mpimba Prison (Bujumbura) present the facts of the case as follows: th 2. On 25 September 1997, Mr Gaëtan Bwampamye was sentenced to death by the Criminal Chamber of the Appeal Court of Ngozi after being convicted for having (in Ruhoro, on 21 October 1993, as author, co-author or accomplice) incited the population to commit crimes, and for having (under the same circumstance, organised as attack geared towards provoking massacres), set up barricades with a view to hindering the enforcement of public order, all of which are offences under Articles 212, 417 and 425 of the Penal Code of Burundi. nd 3. On 2 October 1997, he filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Burundi. In support of his appeal, he invoked six grounds, including the violation of Article 75 of the Penal Procedure Code of Burundi, Article 14 paragraph 3(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well th as Article 51 of Decree No. 100/103 of 29 August 1979, defining the status of the profession of lawyers. According to the complainants, the latter argument was invoked by the accused to denounce the fact that he was denied the services of his counsel during the public prosecution’s closing address and that, in spite of his request for assistance, he was compelled to prepare his own defence. rd 4. The Complainants assert that on 3 June 1997, the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Appeal closed the hearing of the witnesses, and on account of the volume of the case, decided to adjourn the th hearing to 20 August 1997. th 5. During the hearing of 20 August 1997, the prosecution refused to make its closing address, arguing that it needed more time to study the contents of the statement of the defence counsel. The Criminal Chamber therefore decided to adjourn the case to 25 September 1997. On that day, the counsel for the defence was unable to attend the hearing due to ill health. Despite the repeated requests of Mr Bwampanye for the case to be adjourned to another date, the Chamber decided to hear the prosecution, and compelled the accused to defend himself, without the assistance of his lawyer. The verdict sentencing him to death was rendered that same day at the end of the submissions. 6. The Complainants point out that the Supreme Court had rejected this argument, which the accused had invoked before it. The accused had wanted the ruling of the Ngozi Court of Appeal quashed on the grounds that insofar as the court is concerned, the law does not obligate the judge to designate a lawyer, but he may do so. 7. The Supreme Court continues in the following terms “further, whereas for the specific case in question, the accused has always been assisted by a lawyer, the evidence being that his lawyer had th already submitted his 19 page written arguments on 20 August 1997, that has no furthermore they had already pleaded together in the public hearing, whereas in the face of such situation, the plaintiff justification in saying that the judge should have designated a lawyer for him whereas he already had one who had already accomplished all the essential duties expected of a lawyer; that consequently, this argument is also to be rejected” . 8. This line of argument of the Supreme Court is challenged by the complainants who raise a certain number of points of law, including inter alia, the ignorance according to them by the said court of the principles of the right of defence and judicial assistance. They claim that, this ruling of the Supreme Court is not only contrary to the provisions of Article 73 of Burundi’s Criminal Procedure Code which unequivocally establishes the right to judicial assistance but also the general principle of oral submissions in criminal proceedings. 9. They assert on the one hand that “whilst it is customary for a lawyer to communicate his pleas to the prosecution before the closing address of the latter, no written rule requires him to do so”. On the

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