Re Caneba and Others

JurisdictionItalia
CourtCourt of Appeal of Rome (Italy)
Date24 Maggio 1969
Italy, Court of Appeal of Rome.
Re Caneba and Others

States as international persons In general Sovereignty and independence In matters of domestic jurisdiction Criminal proceedings Visits abroad by Italian judges in order to cross-examine defendants held in the United States and France Whether a violation of rules on territorial jurisdiction Requirement to respect sovereignty of other States and follow established procedure of submitting letters rogatory to competent foreign authorities Exceptions admissible only if sanctioned by both international agreement and municipal law The law of Italy

Jurisdiction In general Territorial Over territory in general and persons and property situated therein Territorial limits of jurisdiction Criminal proceedings Visits abroad by Italian judges in order to cross-examine defendants held in the United States and France Whether a violation of rules on territorial jurisdiction Requirement of respect for sovereignty of other States Exceptions admissible only if sanctioned by both international agreement and municipal law Requirement to follow established procedure and submit letters rogatory to competent foreign authorities The law of Italy

Summary: The facts:In the course of complex criminal proceedings in 1967 against more than thirty persons held in various countries, the Court of Rome decided to go to the United States and France, with the approval of the authorities in those countries, in order to take evidence. In the United States the Court itself cross-examined one of the defendants, a fugitive under Italian law, who was held in that country. In France, however, the Court was only allowed to delegate one member to be present at a rogatory hearing conducted by the French authorities. On appeal it was argued that there was no jurisdictional basis, either under municipal or international law, for the taking of evidence abroad in this manner.

Held:The appeal was allowed and the taking of evidence abroad was held to be null and void.

(1) It followed from Article 27 of the Preliminary Provisions to the Civil Code that Italy had renounced any exercise of jurisdictional activity outside its own territory, out of respect for the sovereignty of other States. The obligation to respect the sovereignty of other States was a reciprocal obligation amongst States, and of a general character.

(2) Following international practice, the Italian State provided that its judges should make use of the system of letters rogatory, whereby the taking of evidence was entrusted to the appropriate organs of the foreign State so requested. Even if, by international agreements, foreign States accepted that Italian courts could carry out jurisdictional activity abroad, such activity was unlawful so long as it was not also sanctioned by Italian law.

The following is the text of the relevant part of the judgment of the Court:

History of the proceedingsIn the interests of justice and having regard to the principles of oral hearings and expedition which...

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