by Valerii TROHIN
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 10 February 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 9 December 2004,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case.
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Valerii Trohin, is a Moldovan national who was born in 1966 and lives in Soroca. He was represented before the Court by Mr A. Tănase and Ms J. Hanganu, lawyers practising in Chişinău. The Moldovan Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr V. Grosu.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
1. The applicant’s arrest and alleged ill-treatment
On 3 April 2003 the applicant, who is Russian-speaking, was arrested on suspicion of robbery. He claims to have been ill-treated by the police and to have complained about his ill-treatment to the authorities. He also claims that he was not given adequate legal assistance and did not understand the materials in his case written in Romanian, and was not brought immediately before a court.
On 25 June 2003 the prosecutor refused to institute criminal proceedings on the basis of the applicant’s complaint. He was informed about that refusal in several letters written in Romanian by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
On 14 October 2005 the applicant was acquitted. On 27 March 2006 the Chişinău Court of Appeal quashed that judgment and adopted a new one, convicting the applicant of robbery.
The applicant requested the Supreme Court of Justice and the Moldovan Bar Association to assign a lawyer to represent him before the court and to help him formulate an appeal in cassation, but to no avail.
On 13 September 2006 the Supreme Court of Justice dismissed his appeal as inadmissible. The applicant appears not to have been present at the court hearing.
The applicant lodged an extraordinary appeal (recurs în anulare) against the judgment of 13 September 2006. On 23 April 2007 the Supreme Court of Justice accepted the appeal and sent the case for a new examination by the Court of Appeal.
On 30 October 2007 the Chişinău Court of Appeal partly accepted the applicant’s appeal and acquitted him of several of the charges against him. On 2 September 2008 the Supreme Court of Justice upheld that judgment. The court referred to the insufficient investigation of the applicant’s and his co-accused’s complaints of ill-treatment, contrary to the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention. That judgment was final.
2. Conditions of detention
In the period 3 April 2003 to 19 May 2003 the applicant was detained in the remand centre of the Criuleni Police Commissariat. After 19 May 2003 he was allegedly periodically detained there for a total of over 100 days, including the period 12-19 July 2004 and November 2004. On 9 November 2004 he complained to an inspector from the Ministry of Internal Affairs who had visited him that the conditions of detention in the Criuleni remand centre were inhuman. On 10 November 2004 he made a similar complaint to a prosecutor from the Prosecutor General’s Office. He also complained to various State authorities and received several letters in which those authorities agreed that the conditions of detention in the relevant remand centre did not correspond to sanitary and technical norms. For instance, in a letter to the applicant from the deputy prosecutor of Criuleni dated 22 November 2004 it was accepted that the cells were almost totally bare, lacking any kind of furniture or toilet facilities and that the police commissariat, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General and other authorities had been informed of the situation. According to the same letter, on 10 November 2004 an inspection by the sanitary-epidemiological service of Criuleni had found that the remand centre of the Criuleni police inspectorate did not correspond to sanitary norms.
According to the applicant, he had very little access to daylight and no daily exercise, limited access to water, the food was of poor quality, the cell was too hot and not ventilated, and it was damp and full of vermin. He also sent the Court a letter from the prison containing insects which he claims to have found in his bed.
There was no toilet in the cell, only a bucket. In addition, he was deprived of medical assistance. He claims that he suffered from chronic hepatitis and bronchitis. The applicant repeatedly complained about his conditions of detention during the court hearings in his criminal case, to no avail. He claimed that because the cell was infested with insects he could not sleep since he was constantly bitten and was thus unable to participate effectively in the proceedings. Moreover, his lawyer did not give him any effective assistance.
B. Relevant domestic and other materials
1. The relevant provision of domestic law
The relevant domestic law has been set out in Ostrovar v. Moldova, no. 35207/03, §§ 61-66, 13 September 2005.
2. Reports by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
The relevant parts of the CPT report on its visit to Moldova of 11-28 October 1998 read:
“54. The EDP of the Criuleni Police Commissariat ...
All the cells were similar: detainees sleeping on the same wooden platform without any mattress or blanket; non-existent or very limited access to daylight; artificial light which was insufficient during the day but disturbing at night; very poor ventilation; cells in a disgusting dirtiness. Many cells were infested with parasites and rats in the cells were a current sight, according to the detainees. There was no open air exercise, nor any other form of activity, apart from the two daily visits to “the toilets”. The latter, in a state beyond comprehension, as well as the water tap of the detention block, were situated in a room at the end of the corridor and detainees had to risk going there in a total darkness in order to satisfy their natural needs or to refresh themselves.
56. Depriving a person of his liberty implies the responsibility to detain him in conditions respecting his inherent dignity of a human being. The findings of the CPT during its visit indicate that the Moldovan authorities have failed in complying with this responsibility in respect of the persons detained in the police commissariats and the remand centres visited. ... The conditions prevailing in the police commissariats and the remand centres visited amount, in many respects, to inhuman and degrading treatment and, in addition, entailed a non-negligible sanitary risk for the detainees.”
The applicant complained under Article 1 of the Convention that the respondent State had not ensured the protection of his rights.
He also complained under Article 3 of the Convention of his ill-treatment by the police after his arrest.
He further complained, under the same Article, of the inhuman and degrading conditions of detention in the Remand Centre of the Criuleni Police Commissariat.
He complained under Article 5 of the Convention of his unlawful detention without any reasonable suspicion, of his being unable to understand the relevant documents drafted in a language he did not understand and of the poor quality of his defence.
He also complained under Article 6 of the Convention of the authorities’ refusal to assign a lawyer to represent him before the Supreme Court of Justice.
The applicant complained under Article 13 of the Convention of the lack of effective remedies for his complaints.
He further complained under Article 14 of the Convention of discrimination because he had not been given all the documents in a language which he understood.
He finally complained under Article 17 of the Convention.
On 6 May 2008 the Court received the following signed declaration from the Government concerning the present application:
“I, Vladimir Grosu, Agent for the Government of Republic of Moldova, declare that the Government of Moldova offer to pay the sum of 3,500 euros to Mr Valerii Trohin with a view to securing a friendly settlement of the above-mentioned case pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
This sum, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage as well as costs and expenses, will be converted into Moldovan lei at the rate applicable on the date of payment, and free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months from the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
On 17 September 2008 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant:
“Following your letter of 12 August 2008 addressed to my lawyers please be informed that the undersigned, the applicant V. Trohin, accepts the Government declaration and agrees with the Government’s proposal for a friendly settlement.
The applicant hereby confirms that he is aware that following his agreement to conclude the friendly settlement, his application before the Court will be struck out according to Article 37 para.1 letter c) of the Convention.”
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and has been fully understood by the applicant, and finds no reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention).
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President