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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Miller
Désiré Doorson v. Netherlands
Citation:22 Eur. Ct. H.R. 330 (1996)
Doorson (defendant) was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking. A number of addicts had identified Doorson by his photograph as a drug dealer. Six of them agreed to testify on the condition that they remain anonymous, while two of them disclosed their identity as R and N. The investigating judge questioned two of the anonymous witnesses without Doorson or his counsel present; the anonymous witnesses did not appear in court. R did not appear in court, but both the prosecution and the defense had the opportunity to question N. N stated that he did not recognize Doorson, but upon seeing Doorson’s photograph, he said that Doorson was the one who had given him heroin. However, he later expressed some doubt about his identification of Doorson.
The Regional Court convicted Doorson, and he appealed. The Court of Appeal referred the case back to the investigating judge to verify the necessity of preserving the anonymity of the anonymous witnesses. The investigating judge questioned the anonymous witnesses in the presence of Doorson’s counsel, who was not informed of their identity but had the opportunity to cross-examine them. The witnesses expressed their wishes to remain anonymous because they had faced past threats and retaliation for testifying against another drug dealer. The investigating judge confirmed the need to preserve the witnesses’ anonymity. The intermediate appellate court again referred the case back to the investigating judge to record their findings about the anonymous witnesses’ reliability. The judge stated that the anonymous witnesses identified Doorson’s photograph and readily answered questions. The intermediate appellate court affirmed the conviction based on evidence given by N and the anonymous witnesses.
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