(Application no. 30049/02)
30 July 2009
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 Yevgeniy Kornev v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Sverre Erik Jebens,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 7 July 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
A. Criminal proceedings on the charge of kidnapping
B. Criminal proceedings on the charge of extortion
C. Alleged ill-treatment and ensuing proceedings
“The inquiry conducted did not confirm the [applicant's] allegations. The police officers Ch., M. and K. ... denied that they had put any pressure on [the applicant]. Upon arrival at [the temporary detention facility], he did not complain that he had been beaten up by the police officers... According to [the applicant's] medical file, upon his arrival at [the remand centre]... several bruises were noted in the lumbar spine area. However, according to the certificate, issued by the head of [the temporary detention facility], upon his placement [there] [the applicant] had been examined and questioned by an officer on duty as to whether he had any injuries. [The applicant] had not complained of his condition or had any visible injuries. Nor had the results of the applicant's examination by a paramedic on 8 August 2001 been any different. When transferred to [the remand centre], [the applicant] did not complain of his condition either. Accordingly, the injuries noted at [the remand centre] cannot have been caused by the [police officers] in the circumstances described by [the applicant].”
“The Kurgan prosecutor's office carried out a proper investigation into the allegations concerning the use of unlawful investigation techniques by the police officers. Messrs M., Ch., and K. were questioned. They explained that they had not put any physical or psychological pressure on [the applicant] during his arrest. [The applicant] did not confess to the crime. It is true that on  August 2001 after his transfer from [the temporary detention facility] to [the remand prison] bruises on the small of [the applicant's] back were detected. However, earlier, when [the applicant] had been brought to [the temporary detention facility], he had been examined and questioned by an officer on duty. At that time [the applicant] had no injuries and did not complain of the alleged ill-treatment or his condition. Having regard to those facts, the Kurgan prosecutor's office drew a justified conclusion that the [bruises] detected upon the applicant's arrival at [the remand prison] could not have been caused by the policemen in the circumstances described by [the applicant]. There are no other materials in the court's possession to prove that the policemen had committed any unlawful acts vis-à-vis [the applicant].”
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
A. Supervisory-review proceedings
B. Investigation of criminal offences
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
1. Alleged ill-treatment
2. Adequacy of the investigation
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
“1. In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing ... by a ... tribunal established by law...
3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
(c) to defend himself in person ...”
1. General principles
“58. In the interests of a fair and just criminal process it is of capital importance that the accused should appear at his trial (see Lala v. the Netherlands, judgment of 22 September 1994, Series A no. 297-A, p. 13, § 33; Poitrimol v. France, judgment of 23 November 1993, Series A no. 277-A, p. 15, § 35; and De Lorenzo v. Italy (dec.), no. 69264/01, 12 February 2004), and the duty to guarantee the right of a criminal defendant to be present in the courtroom – either during the original proceedings or in a retrial – ranks as one of the essential requirements of Article 6 (see Stoichkov v. Bulgaria, no. 9808/02, § 56, 24 March 2005)...
60. However, the personal attendance of the defendant does not take on the same crucial significance for an appeal hearing as it does for the trial hearing (see Kamasinski, cited above, p. 44, § 106)...
62. ... even where the court of appeal has jurisdiction to review the case both as to facts and as to law, Article 6 does not always require a right to a public hearing, still less a right to appear in person (see Fejde v. Sweden, judgment of 29 October 1991, Series A no. 212-C, p. 68, § 31). In order to decide this question, regard must be had, among other considerations, to the specific features of the proceedings in question and to the manner in which the applicant's interests were actually presented and protected before the appellate court, particularly in the light of the nature of the issues to be decided by it (see Helmers v. Sweden, judgment of 29 October 1991, Series A no. 212-A, p. 15, §§ 31-32) and of their importance to the appellant (see Kremzow, cited above, p. 43, § 59; Kamasinski, cited above, pp. 44-45, § 106 in fine; and Ekbatani, cited above, p. 13, §§ 27-28)...
64. However, where an appellate court has to examine a case as to the facts and the law and make a full assessment of the issue of guilt or innocence, it cannot determine the issue without a direct assessment of the evidence given in person by the accused for the purpose of proving that he did not commit the act allegedly constituting a criminal offence (see Dondarini v. San Marino, no. 50545/99, § 27, 6 July 2004)...
73. Neither the letter nor the spirit of Article 6 of the Convention prevents a person from waiving of his own free will, either expressly or tacitly, the entitlement to the guarantees of a fair trial (see Kwiatkowska v. Italy (dec.), no. 52868/99, 30 November 2000). However, such a waiver must, if it is to be effective for Convention purposes, be established in an unequivocal manner and be attended by minimum safeguards commensurate with its importance (see Poitrimol, cited above, pp. 13-14, § 31)...
76. In view of the prominent place held in a democratic society by the right to a fair trial (see, among many other authorities, Delcourt v. Belgium, judgment of 17 January 1970, Series A no. 11, pp. 14-15, § 25 in fine), Article 6 of the Convention imposes on every national court an obligation to check whether the defendant has had the opportunity to apprise himself of the date of the hearing and the steps to be taken in order to take part where... this is disputed on a ground that does not immediately appear to be manifestly devoid of merit (see, mutatis mutandis, Somogyi v. Italy, no. 67972/01, § 72, ECHR 2004-IV)...”
2. Application of the above principles to the instant case
III. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
IV. 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. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
(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 6,000 (six thousand euros) plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into Russian roubles 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 30 July 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Søren Nielsen Nina