Unhelpful assessors throw life-line for murder convict
Publish date: 08 October 2018
Issue Number: 794
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
The courts in Tanzania still interpret the law to mean that the death penalty is mandatory in the case of murder, but it is decades since last anyone was hanged. As the numbers on death row increase, judges remain scrupulous in ensuring that all the elements of a fair trial are observed in cases potentially involving capital punishment. In her A Matter of Justice column on the Legalbrief site, Carmel Rickard takes a look at the case of Hilda Innocent, convicted of murdering her husband, and the safety nets that Tanzania's court of appeal found had not been put in place during her trial. In this case, the role of assessors, who in Tanzania are generally ordinary members of he public acting as a residual jury of sorts, came into question. The defence successfully argued that the assessors did not fully participate in the trial as required by law, and as a result, nullified the proceedings and the judgment of the trial court, quashed the conviction and set aside the death sentence.