28 January 2009
by Henryk WEREDA
lodged on 5 November 2008
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The applicant, Mr Henryk Wereda, is a Polish national who was born in 1949 and lives in Gdynia.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant is a navy officer.
On 2 July 2002 the Poznań District Military Court (Sąd Garnizonowy) remanded him in custody on suspicion that he had accepted bribes in connection with his professional activities and had been heading an organised criminal gang (case no. So 4/05).
This decision was justified by the strong evidence against the applicant, the gravity of the offences with which he had been charged and the severity of the penalty which could be imposed if convicted.
On 14 August 2002 the Supreme Court (Sąd Najwyższy) lifted the detention measure and ordered that the applicant be suspended from duty. The Supreme Court released the applicant on health grounds, since he had been diagnosed with severe depression and was considered likely to attempt to commit suicide if incarcerated.
On 7 March 2005 the bill of indictment against the applicant was lodged with the Poznań Regional Military Court.
The trial court held twenty-two hearings.
It appears that by virtue of the Supreme Court’s resolution of 26 April 2006 one of the judges was excluded from the bench.
Meanwhile, on 5 February 2006 the applicant was arrested and on 6 February 2006 the Poznań Regional Military Court (Wojskowy Sąd Okręgowy) remanded him in custody on suspicion of heading an organised criminal gang and having committed, among others, multiple offences of fraud, embezzlement, uttering threats and accepting bribes (case no. So 20/06).
The decision to detain the applicant was justified by the strong evidence against him, the severity of the penalty which might be imposed if convicted and the risk that he would attempt to induce the witnesses to give false testimony or otherwise, to obstruct the proceedings. The latter risk was considered of the utmost importance in the light of the fact that the case involved a great number of alleged accomplices.
On 20 July 2006 a new bill of indictment against the applicant was lodged with the Poznań Regional Military Court.
On 27 September 2006 both cases against the applicant and his accomplices were joined (case no. So 31/07).
Subsequently the preventive measure was extended by the court’s numerous decisions, all of which were upheld on appeal.
The domestic courts referred to the original grounds for the applicant’s pre-trial detention and, in addition, emphasised that the case was of a complex character.
On 13 February 2007 the Poznań Regional Military Court convicted the applicant of several of the offences charged and sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment. The imposed prison term was reduced by the time the applicant had spent in pre-trial detention, namely from 5 February 2006 until 13 February 2007.
On 31 May 2007 the Supreme Court’s Military Chamber (Sąd Najwyższy Izba Wojskowa) quashed the above judgment and remitted the case to the Poznań Regional Military Court.
The applicant’s pre-trial detention was further extended by the domestic courts’ decisions. The applicant’s requests for release were rejected.
On 9 January 2008 the Poznań Regional Military Court lifted the detention measure on the condition that the applicant and his wife’s real property should serve as security. The procedure concerning the real property could not be completed by the applicant before the deadline indicated by the trial court. As a consequence, on 4 February 2008 the applicant’s pre-trial detention was once more extended by decision of the Poznań Regional Military Court.
Upon the applicant’s appeal, on 27 February 2008 the Supreme Court changed the above decision of the Poznań Regional Military Court and ordered that the applicant be released on bail.
Because the applicant failed to deposit the required amount within the indicated time-limit, on 30 April 2008 his pre-trial detention was again extended.
Ultimately, on 19 May 2008 the Supreme Court decided to release the applicant from pre-trial detention and to place him, under police supervision with a prohibition on leaving the country.
The applicant continued to be deprived of liberty until 21 May 2008, when he was actually released home.
The criminal proceedings against the applicant are currently pending before the Poznań Regional Military Court.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
The relevant domestic law and practice concerning the imposition of pre-trial detention (aresztowanie tymczasowe), the grounds for its extension, release from detention and rules governing other, so called “preventive measures” (środki zapobiegawcze) are summarised in several judgments concerning similar cases (see, among others, Gołek v. Poland, no. 31330/02, §§ 27-33, 25 April 2006; Celejewski v. Poland, no. 17584/04, §§ 22-23, 4 August 2006).
The applicant complains under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that between 19 and 21 May 2008 he was held in pre-trial detention without any legal basis, owing to technical and administrative formalities.
He also complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention of the unreasonable length of his pre-trial detention from 2 July until 14 August 2002 and from 6 February 2006 until 19 May 2008.
Lastly, the applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 of the unfairness of the criminal proceedings pending against him. In particular, the applicant complains of the fact that the judges who seconded from the district court had presided over the proceedings in the appellate court.
QUESTIONS TO THE PARTIES
Reference is made in this connection to the following:
- the Court’s use of Article 46 of the Convention when addressing structural problems such as the one identified in the Scordino case (Scordino v. Italy (no. 1) [GC], no. 36813/97, §§ 229-240, ECHR 2006 .... );
- the Committee of Ministers’ Interim Resolution CM/ResDH(2007)75 concerning the judgments of the ECHR in 44 cases against Poland relating to the excessive length of detention on remand adopted on 6 June 2007.