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Witnesses can not only deliberately give false testimony, but can also be wrong to a considerable extent. This is especially true when it comes to identifying suspects. But even beyond that, memory is highly prone to error.

According to surveys by the National Registry of Exonerations, misidentification by eyewitnesses was (partly) causal in 28 percent of the wrongful convictions registered there in U.S. criminal proceedings, while other false accusations by witnesses were (partly) causal in 60 percent of the cases.


If witnesses remain unsworn in German criminal proceedings - as is usually the case - false testimony can only be considered as a reason for a retrial in favor of the convicted person if it was made intentionally (Section 359 No. 2 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure) or if there are additional new facts or evidence which, alone or in conjunction with the previously obtained evidence, are suitable to justify an acquittal, a lesser punishment under a more lenient penal provision or a substantially different decision on a measure of correction and protection (Section 359 No. 5 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure).

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