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Court and lawsuit in Hammurabi Laws
The Hammurabi reform judicial system has become more centralized and almost independent of the priesthood, and written law has become the main source of judicial decisions. Royal laws were equated with divine institutions.
“The administration of justice in Babylonia of the Hammurabi era is wholly in the hands of state power; traces of blood feud in the collection of Hammurabi is almost imperceptible. Instead of the former judges - priests and elders, now special secular judges appointed by the king are acting as judicial authorities, the role of priests is reduced to taking the oath of office, and the elders to the presence in the court session as secondary assistants.
The duties of the judges appointed directly by the tsar himself were very diverse: their cases included not only the analysis of court cases in the strict sense of the word, but also the registration of trade agreements.
The law vigilantly monitored the integrity of judges and severely punishes violation of the judicial procedure.
The indictment was brought by a private person on his own responsibility, and the state does not expose the prosecutor from itself.
The type of evidence in a lawsuit in the collection of Hammurabi is:
- A written act relating to a controversial circumstance (Articles 122, 123, 128)
- Oath (v. 23, 281)
- Testimony of witnesses (Article 9)
- Ordals (v. 2, 132)
In addition to written acts, litigants usually brought with them to the court a controversial subject; or part of it, if the item was not convenient for delivery.
The last court was the king, who could appeal to the decisions of the judges and who had the right to pardon in criminal cases. "
Although Lawyer Hammurabi says little about the lawsuit, we still managed to find something, namely: it looks a lot like our modern lawsuit, with the exception of slight differences.
The trial in Babylon was oral and adversarial. This means that cases were initiated only upon the complaint of the interested party, and during the process, each of the parties had to prove its allegations. No protocols were kept, although some important points could be recorded in writing. Decisions and sentences were verbal. The main evidence at the trial was witness statements (paragraphs 9–11).
For example, clause 9: "If a person who has lost something grabs the missing thing in the hands of another person, and the one in whose hands the missing thing is caught, says:" The seller, I sold, I bought, they say , with witnesses, "and the owner of the missing item will say:" I’ll introduce witnesses who know my missing item, "the buyer must bring the seller who sold him the item and witnesses with whom he bought; the owner of the missing item should also bring witnesses knowing his missing thing.
The judges should consider their case, and the witnesses at whom the purchase was made, and the witnesses who know the missing thing, must tell what they know before God, and then the seller is a thief, he must be killed; the owner of the missing item must receive his missing item back; the buyer must take the silver he weighs from the seller’s house.
In this article, the best possible way, the importance of witness testimony in court is presented, and if there were no witnesses in the vicinity, then, as it is written in paragraph 13 - “If there are no witnesses nearby, then the judges appoint him a deadline until the 6th months. If he doesn’t bring his witnesses to the 6th month, then he is a liar, must bear the punishment imposed in such a court case "- the court was postponed for 6 months, during which the person had to find his witnesses, otherwise the unenviable was waiting for him fate.
In some cases, in the absence of other methods of establishing the truth, they resorted to the “God's judgment” (in front of the statues of the gods Shamash and Marduk), which could have two forms:
1) The suspect's water horde was immersed in the river, and if he drowned, it was believed that the River, that is, the god of the river, punished the guilty person, if not, he was considered justified.
2) An oath in the name of the gods. The oath by the gods, according to those ideas, inevitably brought upon the falsely sworn punishment of the gods. Therefore, making such an oath was considered sufficient grounds for acquittal, and refusal - proof of the justice of the accusation. False accusation, like perjury, was punishable on the basis of the talion principle, i.e., the same punishment that the accused would have suffered if his guilt had been proved.
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