Police accused of misconduct lose High Court evidence appeal

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Two Victorian police officers accused of misconduct had lost an appeal to avoid giving evidence at an anti-corruption watchdog hearing.

The police officers, accused of kicking and stomping on a 51-year-old woman, are facing examination by the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, which began an investigation following the finding of CCTV footage.

The woman, who had mental health issues, was allegedly left handcuffed and semi-naked on the ground when she was brought into the Ballarat lockup last year.  The officers face allegations they used unreasonable force.

Lawyers for the officers argued that giving evidence might compromise fairness at a possible future trial, but because they had not been charged with an offence, nor were any prosecutions pending, the court said there was no risk to a future trial and rejected their appeal.

According to the ABC, the court found that there was no reason to extend the principle to cover the current case and that doing so would “fetter the pursuit and exposure of a lack of probity within the force contrary to the object of the IBAC Act”.

The court also found that the IBAC Act lawfully removed the privilege against self-incrimination, a question central to the case in the High Court challenging the examination by IBAC in public.

A new hearing date is yet to be set.
 

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