When a witness fails to appear before court
Question: I have received a notice from the criminal court to appear in person as a witness. I have some issues in this matter: 1) the accused is known to me and if I act as a witness, he will be agitated; 2) I will not be able to attend on the date fixed as I have to leave country for other reasons. Please advise.
According to Article 200 of the criminal procedure code, if the witness fails to appear before the court, after summoning him in accordance with the law, the court may postpone the case to reissue the summon, or order to arrest and bring him before the court. If the witness fails to attend for the second time or to take the oath or testify without an admissible reason, the court may, after hearing the statements of the Public Prosecution, make him subject to the provision of Article 179 of the Penal Code.
As per Article 179, if the witness refused to appear, take oath or otherwise withholds testimony without any valid reason for such refusal shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding QR3,000 or both. Such witness shall be exempted from punishment, if he/she appear prior to the issuance of judgment in subject matter.
A case of dishonoured cheque and jail order
Q: I am a partner holding 49% shares in a company while 51% is by a Qatari national. My partner had signed a cheque for procuring some materials. But due to some unforeseen circumstances, the company could not arrange the fund for honouring the cheque. Now the cheque got dishonoured and there is a judgment against the company. Based on the judgment, is it possible to obtain jail order for the signatory? Under which provision can the judgment creditor obtain such an order? Please advise.
The judgment creditor can apply for jail order if the judgment debtor failed to observe the court order. As per Article 514 of the Civil & Commercial Procedure Code, if the judgment debtor abstains from the execution of judgment issued against him, the judgment creditor may request the imprisonment of the judgment debtor. The court may order the imprisonment of the judgment debtor if it is established that judgment debtor is able to fulfil his obligation based on the issued order and that he was ordered by the judge to fulfil his obligation and failed to do so. Such imprisonment period shall not exceed three months. As the judgment debtor is a company, the directors responsible for the acts and omissions will be held liable.
Neighbour damages car and properties
Q: My neighbour has damaged my car and some other stuff which I kept near my parking slot. I have asked him to repair the damaged items but he has refused. I want to take legal action against him for damaging my properties. How can I proceed for that? What is the law in this regard? Please advise.
According to Article 389 of Qatar Penal Law, any person who intentionally destroys, damages or spoils, another person’s movable or immovable properties, or makes them unusable, invaluable, useless or invalid, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or with a fine not exceeding QR10,000 or with both. The victim can file a complaint before the police station for such damages.
Issuance of service certificate to workers
Q: My company has terminated me but has provided support for changing my visa to a new employer. But when I requested the management for the experience certificate, the management refused to issue it. Can I legally ask for such a certificate? Please advise.
According to the provisions of Labour Law, a company or management cannot refuse issuance of service certificate to employees. According to Article 53 of the law, the employer shall upon termination or expiry of the service contract issue free of charge a service certificate on worker’s demand. A service certificate is required to mention tenure of service, nature of work rendered and salary paid. In addition, the employer must return to the worker the certificates, documents, etc. which the worker deposited with the employer.
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According to Article 32 of Criminal Procedure code, whoever becomes aware of a commission of a crime, for which a legal action can be instituted without a complaint, shall report to the Public Prosecution or an investigation officer.
The investigation officers may, during the collection of evidence, conduct necessary searches, hear testimony from whoever has information about the crimes and its perpetrators, and interrogate the suspect about the attributed charges. The suspect, its attorney and the victim may attend these procedures whenever possible. The investigation officers may seek the experts’ assistance, and request their opinion orally or in writing; however, they shall not take the witnesses’ or experts’ oath, unless there are fears that this will later be impossible.
As per Article 35, if necessary, the investigation officers may undertake any investigation procedures in a place located outside its jurisdiction, as long as they are associated with an incident within jurisdiction.
The crime shall be regarded as flagrante delicto at the actual time of committing the crime, or a short time after committing it. The crime shall be regarded flagrante delicto if the victim followed perpetrator, the perpetrator was followed by a shouting crowd after the crime was committed, or the perpetrator was found soon after its commission carrying tools, weapons, baggage, papers or other objects indicating that he is the perpetrator, or accomplice, or if at that time indications or signs were found on him showing the same.
According to Article 38, upon the commission of a crime or a felony in a state of flagrante delicto, the investigation officer shall immediately move to the place of the incident, survey and preserve the physical traces of the crime, maintain it, record the status of places and persons and whatever reveals the evidence, and take testimonies from those present or those in possession of relevant information. The investigation officer shall immediately notify the Public Prosecution of his move to the place of the incident, and the Public Prosecution shall immediately move to the place of the incident upon being notified of a flagrante delicto felony.
In cases of flagrante delicto crimes, the investigation officer, upon its direction, shall prevent the attendees from leaving or escaping from the scene of the crime until the incident is documented. The investigation officer may immediately summon any person from whom information, with regard to the incident, can be obtained. If any one of the attendees violates the order of the investigation officer or any of the summoned persons refuse to attend, the investigation officer shall record and submit to the Public Prosecution, which may order a sentence with a fine not exceeding one thousand riyals.
As per Article 40, no person shall be arrested or detained unless an order is issued by the competent authorities, and in the cases prescribed by the law. The arrested person shall be treated in such a way that maintains the human dignity, and shall not be harmed physically or morally. The investigation officer shall remind the suspect of his right to remain silent and to communicate with any persons he so wishes.
The investigation officer may, in the cases of flagrante delicto crimes or misdemeanors punishable with imprisonment for a period exceeding six months, order the arrest of the suspect present at the scene, against whom sufficient evidence for conviction is available. If the suspect is not present, the investigation officer may issue an order to arrest and summon, and prove this in the record.
By Dr Nizar Kochery
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