(Application no. 73502/01)
11 July 2006
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Aliuţă v. Romania,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr A.B. Baka,
Mr R. Türmen,
Mr C. Bîrsan,
Mr M. Ugrekhelidze,
Mrs E. Fura-Sandström,
Ms D. Jočienė, judges,
and Mr S. Naismith, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 20 June 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
The Court observes that the delay in the proceedings seems to have been caused mainly by the failings of the judicial authorities, in so far as the decisions adopted had to be quashed and the case sent back to the prosecutor to continue the investigations. Nothing indicates that the applicant contributed significantly to the protraction of the case.
The Court will also disregard the period between the two decisions of the prosecutor, that of 10 July 2002, which closed the criminal investigations against the applicant and that of 23 May 2003, which reopened the investigations, since the applicant was not under criminal charges during that period (Stoianova and Nedelcu v. Romania, nos. 77517/01 and 77722/01, § 20, 4 August 2005).
Six courts examined the applicant’s case during this time, corresponding to three degrees of ordinary jurisdiction and one extraordinary appeal.
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
II. OTHER COMPLAINTS
Moreover, nothing in the present case indicates that the appeal against the civil judgment of the County Court would not have been effective. The applicant should, thus, have exhausted that remedy before lodging the complaint with the Court.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
B. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 1,200 (one thousand two hundred euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the national currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement, plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(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 11 July 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
S. Naismith J.-P. Costa
Deputy Registrar President
In accordance with Article 45 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 74 § 2 of the Rules of Court, the dissenting opinion of Mrs Fura-Sandström is annexed to this judgment.
DISSENTING OPINION OF JUDGE FURA-SANDSTRÖM
I voted against the majority, which found a violation of Article 6 § 1. In my view, there is no violation of Article 6 § 1 for the following reasons.
I agree with the Government’s statement that there were two different sets of proceedings which should be evaluated separately. When doing that, I find that both sets of proceedings meet the requirements set forth in the Court’s case-law as regards the length of proceedings in criminal cases.
Even assuming that the two sets of proceedings are to be assessed as one, as the majority has found, and taking into account only the periods when the cases were actually pending before the courts, I cannot find the length (to date more than six years and three months) excessive. Six courts examined the case, corresponding to three degrees of ordinary jurisdiction and one extraordinary appeal (see paragraph 17 of the judgment). Even if in my view the length so far (the proceedings are still pending) does meet the requirement of a “reasonable time”, I do not exclude that there might be a problem in the future. However, this issue is premature.