European Court of Human Rights - case of Bricmont v. Belgium (1989) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Bricmont v. Belgium (1989) (excerpts)

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81.   The criminal proceedings brought against the applicants were based on the Prince’s accusations. In the circumstances of the case, the exercise of the rights of the defence - an essential part of the right to a fair trial - required in principle that the applicants should have an opportunity to challenge any aspect of the complainant’s account during a confrontation or an examination, either in public or, if necessary, at his home. That would have made it possible to clarify certain facts and to lead the Prince to give further particulars of - or even withdraw - one or more of his charges. The Court notes in this connection that when examined by the investigating judge on 18 July 1979 and again, in Mr Bricmont’s presence, on 23 October, the Prince acknowledged that the statement he had made to the President of the Court of Appeal on 9 November 1977 had caused a misunderstanding concerning a will he had drawn up in the accused’s favour (see paragraphs 40 and 41 above). The chambre du conseil had issued an order finding that there was no case to answer on this point (see paragraph 22 above).