Response of the Prosecutor General concerning access to pre-trial investigation files
The Prosecutor General has reacted sceptically to the draft amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure, which modifies provisions governing access to pre-trial investigation files in their part comprising evidence referred to in the motion to order or extend pre-trial detention.
In June this year, the Foundation called on the Prosecutor General to address the issue of an impaired access to pre-trial investigation files containing evidence in support of a motion to impose pre-trial detention. The HFHR indicated that obstacles encountered by suspects and their counsel in their efforts to have the files disclosed may lead to a violation of the equality of arms principle and the principle of adversarial nature of criminal proceedings.
In response to this appeal, the Prosecutor General admitted that the current regulation restricted, to a certain degree, the right to defence. “On the other hand, the Code of Criminal Procedure lays down many provisions which act as guardians of the suspect’s interests and limits the power of law enforcement authorities in their pursuit of the truth (…), guaranteeing such rights as the right of the suspect to refuse to answer questions or submit other information”, reads the response.
The Prosecutor General is of the opinion that the binding provisions ensure the procedural safeguards for suspects because they provide for the possibility to review the prosecutor’s refusal by his direct superior.
The Prosecutor General holds the view that providing suspects with unconditional access to evidence at the stage of pre-trial investigation would hamper the effective prosecution of the remaining co-offenders. “In such a situation we’d have to deal with the primacy of defence over the interests of the investigation”, says the response.