Order of the Court of Appeal of Trento of 20 December 2017

By this order, the Court of Appeal of Trento submitted to the Constitutional Court the issue of constitutional legitimacy concerning Article 603.3 bis of the code of criminal procedure in relation to Articles 111 and 117 of the Constitution. Said provision was adopted by law No. 103/2017 provides for the obligation to repeat the hearing of oral argument in case of appeal submitted by the Public Prosecutor against a judgment of acquitting. This reform recalled the regola iuris established by Court of Cassation case law and grounded on Article 6.3.d of the ECHR. This Article recognizes the right of the accused “to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him”. However, according to the Court of Appeal of Trento, these principles are inconsistent with the rationale behind the abbreviated trial procedure provided by the Code of Criminal Procedure. For the Court this particular procedure, though allowing derogation from Article 6 of the ECHR is not in contrast with it, because the Article set out a right of defendant, and not an obligation of the court to examine witnesses. Accordingly, the choice of the abbreviated procedure by the accused is consistent with the ECHR.