Pelser – assessors reason for latest delay

Marthinus Peler at a previous hearing. (Photo: Riaan van Zyl)

Once again the trial date of the Marthinus Pelser case, in which the 23-year-old stands accused of having murdered his six-month-old baby, Deon in June last year, has been moved.

But this time it is not at the request of his new legal aid defence team but rather because of the fact that the assessors are not available on the original dates. The trial was set to run from 11 to 14 September and again on 21 September, but the assessors are not available between 11 and 14 September. Pelser’s previous legal team requested the assessors. The dates for the trial have now been set at 21 and 28 September, and 4 and 5 October.

Also Read: Update: The Pelser baby case at a glance

But what is the role of an assessor?

Two assessors are usually appointed based on their expertise in a specific field. Assessors are only requested in very serious or complicated cases. The assessors will listen to the evidence and then give their input to the judge/ magistrate before judgement is handed down. They have a vote equal to the judge’s/ magistrate’s, which means they can actually outvote the judge. They effectively replace a jury in our justice system.

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Riaan van Zyl

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