(Application no. 28961/03)
17 December 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 Kolchinayev v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Christos Rozakis, President,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 26 November 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
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...”
1. Submissions by the parties
2. The Court’s assessment
(a) Period to be taken into consideration
16. In the present case, the Court reiterates that the applicant was finally convicted by the Supreme Court of Russia on 11 October 1995 which is prior to 5 May 1998, the date on which the Convention was ratified by Russia. This period cannot therefore be taken into consideration. As regards the new trial which ended with the final judgment of the Supreme Court of 12 February 2003, the Court considers in this connection that the applicant was “notified” of the charge against him on the day when the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia quashed his conviction, that is on 4 September 1996. However, the period to be taken into account began only on 5 May 1998, the date when the Convention was ratified by Russia. It ended, as indicated, on 12 February 2003 with the final judgment of the appeal court. Yet, in assessing the reasonableness of the time that elapsed after the ratification date, due regard must be had to the state of proceedings at the material time. At the ratification date the criminal proceedings had been pending for approximately one year and eight months.
(b) Reasonableness of the length of the proceedings
18. The Court reiterates that an accused in criminal proceedings should be entitled to have his case conducted with special diligence. The Convention institutions have consistently taken the approach that Article 6, in respect of criminal matters, was designed to avoid that a person charged should remain too long in a state of uncertainty about his fate (see Nakhmanovich v. Russia, no. 55669/00, § 89, 2 March 2006).
There has accordingly been a breach of Article 6 § 1.
II. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
A. Complaints related to the period from 1992 to 1995
26. It follows that these complaints are incompatible ratione temporis with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.
B. Complaints related to the period from 2001 to 2003
28. The Court observes that it is not its task under the Convention to act as a court of appeal, or a so-called court of fourth instance, where decisions taken by domestic courts may be contested. It is the role of the latter to apply the domestic law and assess the evidence before them (see, amongst many authorities, Vidal v. Belgium judgment of 22 April 1992, Series A no. 235-B, pp. 32-33, § 33, and Edwards v. the United Kingdom judgment of 16 December 1992, Series A no. 247-B, § 34).
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. Costs and expenses
C. Default interest
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months of the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, EUR 1,500 (one thousand five hundred euros), in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into Russian roubles 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 17 December 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis