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Taking Evidence Abroad: Israel's Experience With Video-Conferencing

NCJ Number
Gazette Volume: 63 Issue: 3 Dated: 2001 Pages: 32-36
Marvin Hankin
Date Published
5 pages
This article describes the video-conferencing procedure used to obtain testimony in the 1999 trial of Joseph Prushinowki, who committed fraud in Canada but fled to Israel, where he was arrested and tried.
An important witness for the prosecution was an individual who was residing in Canada at the time. This witness had been an accomplice with the defendant in some of the offenses included in the indictment. The witness agreed to be a state witness and initially agreed to travel to Israel in October 1999 to testify in person at the criminal trial; however, at the last minute he notified the prosecutor that he had received threats and was afraid to testify. Eventually, Canadian and Israeli authorities agreed to the taking of the witness' testimony through video-conferencing. This article describes the technical aspects of the video-conferencing. In the video hook-up between the two courtrooms, the Israeli courtroom viewed the witness in Montreal as well as the Canadian judge. In the Canadian courtroom, the picture on the television was of the prosecutor or defense attorney in Jerusalem asking questions of the witness. The technology was effective in obtaining testimony from the witness without compromising the rights of the defendant. The advantages of video-conferencing were cost-savings and the ability of the defendant and the defense attorneys to sit together in the same courtroom to consult with each other during the examination of the witness. Some issues to be addressed are who should administer the oath or the warning that the witness must tell the truth, and which jurisdiction should prosecute perjury should it occur.