CASE OF BERKI v. HUNGARY
(Application no. 31162/09)
26 May 2015
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Berki v. Hungary,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Helen Keller, President,
Robert Spano, judges,
and Abel Campos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 21 April 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 31162/09) against Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Hungarian national, Mr Gábor Berki (“the applicant”), on 9 June 2009.
2. The applicant was represented by Ms E. Király, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr Z. Tallódi, Agent, Ministry of Justice.
3. On 13 November 2014 the complaint concerning the length of the proceedings was communicated to the Government and the remainder of the application was declared inadmissible.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1966 and lives in Budapest.
5. On 30 March 2004 the applicant was detained on suspicion of misuse of illegal pornographic material.
6. In the ensuing criminal proceedings, the Budapest IV/XV District Court acquitted the applicant on 9 April 2008, after holding three hearings.
7. On appeal, the Budapest Regional Court upheld the acquittal on 17 March 2009.
8. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
9. The Government contested that argument.
10. The period to be taken into consideration began on 30 March 2004 and ended on 17 March 2009. It thus lasted about four years and eleven months for two levels of jurisdiction.
In view of such lengthy proceedings, this complaint must be declared admissible.
11. The Court has frequently found violations of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in cases raising issues similar to the one in the present application (see, among many other authorities, Pélissier and Sassi v. France [GC], no. 25444/94, § 67, ECHR 1999-II).
12. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court considers that the Government have not put forward any fact or convincing argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion in the present circumstances. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that the length of the proceedings was excessive and failed to meet the “reasonable time” requirement.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
13. Relying on Article 41 of the Convention, the applicant claimed some pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage to be awarded in line with the Court’s case-law in Hungarian length-of-proceedings cases.
14. The Court considers that the applicant must have sustained some non-pecuniary damage. Ruling on the basis of equity, it awards him EUR 1,800 under that head.
15. The applicant made no costs claim.
16. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Declares the application admissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months EUR 1,800 (one thousand eight hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 26 May 2015, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Abel Campos Helen
Deputy Registrar President