by Dimitar Petrov FILIPOV
The European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), sitting on 7 April 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska,
Zdravka Kalaydjieva, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 4 November 2004,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Dimitar Petrov Filipov, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1975 and lives in Plovdiv. He is represented before the Court by Mr M. Ekimdjiev and Mrs K. Boncheva, lawyers practising in Plovdiv.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
1. The criminal proceedings against the applicant
On 22 July 2000 the applicant and another person were charged with extortion. The investigation continued until 7 June 2001 when an indictment was filed against the applicant with the Plovdiv Regional Court for extortion, illegal possession of firearms and possession of stolen goods.
The Regional Court conducted seventeen hearings, which were scheduled at intervals of one to five months. Four of the hearings were adjourned as the applicant or his counsel failed to attend, while another three were adjourned on request of the other accused or the victim.
In a judgment of 9 January 2006 the Regional Court convicted the applicant as charged and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment.
No appeal was apparently lodged against the judgment and it became final.
2. Detention of the applicant
The applicant was held in pre-trial detention from 25 July 2000 to 5 November 2001 and then from 2 January to 6 October 2002 when he was released on bail. The decisions to put him in detention and release him are not provided.
On 10 September 2003 the applicant failed to attend a court hearing. Documents presented by him stated that he was sick and needed to stay at home but a check performed by the police earlier that day had found that he was not there.
On 12 September 2003 he was arrested in another city under an arrest order issued in another set of proceedings several months earlier, after he had been declared a fugitive on 26 June 2003.
(a) Detention order of 10 October 2003
On 10 October 2003 the Regional Court ordered that the applicant be placed in detention because his absence at the hearing of 10 September 2003 had not been justified: he had apparently not complied with the doctor’s instructions to stay at home and could have come to the hearing. Moreover, he had been declared a fugitive and had not been found at the address he had indicated.
On 5 November 2003 the decision to place the applicant in detention was upheld by the Plovdiv Court of Appeal.
(b) First appeal of the applicant against his continued detention
At a regular court hearing on 15 January 2004 the applicant appealed against his continued detention. As his detention had also been ordered in the other set of criminal proceedings, he argued that the detention in the present proceedings had become redundant. He also argued that his health problems and his dire family situation warranted release.
The Regional Court dismissed the request as it considered that there existed a danger that the applicant might abscond or reoffend because he had previous convictions, there were other criminal proceedings pending against him and he had failed to attend a hearing. The court noted that a medical examination had shown that the applicant was in good health and that the other members of his family, namely his mother and his brother, were capable of taking care of themselves.
(c) Second appeal against the continued detention
At a court hearing on 21 May 2004 the applicant requested to be released arguing that the detention had become too long.
The Regional Court dismissed the request, noting again that the applicant had other convictions and was accused in other criminal proceedings. Further, he had been charged with serious offences. There existed therefore a risk that he might abscond or reoffend.
(d) Third appeal against the continued detention
At a regular court hearing on 21 September 2004 the applicant once again requested to be released.
The Regional Court dismissed the request noting that the applicant had been charged with a serious offence and had previous convictions. Further, as there were other criminal proceedings pending against him and he had already been declared a fugitive, there was a real danger of him absconding or reoffending.
The Regional Court refused to examine documents related to the applicant’s medical treatment on 10 September 2003.
On 28 September 2004 the applicant appealed against the Regional Court’s decision to refuse release. It does not appear that he raised any new arguments. The prosecution did not submit any comments on his appeal.
In a closed session, on 11 October 2004 the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision affirming its reasoning.
(e) Fourth appeal against the continued detention
On an unspecified date the applicant lodged another appeal against his continued detention arguing, apparently, that his health had deteriorated.
The appeal was dismissed on 17 February 2005 by the Regional Court, which noted that the applicant was suffering from obesity and high blood pressure and could receive adequate treatment in prison. The Regional Court reiterated its earlier conclusion that there existed a real danger of the applicant’s absconding or reoffending
Upon appeal by the applicant, on 18 March 2005 this decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal. It dismissed the applicant’s additional argument that the length of the detention was excessive noting that the case was at the trial stage and the next hearing was scheduled to be conducted soon.
(f) Fifth appeal against the continued detention
At a regular court hearing on 10 May 2005 the applicant requested once again to be released, arguing that his detention on 10 October 2003 had been unlawful and that the detention had already become too lengthy.
The Regional Court dismissed the request, reiterating that there was a risk of the applicant’s absconding or reoffending as there were other criminal proceedings and earlier convictions against him. It held, in addition, that it was not necessary to examine the applicant’s arguments related to the lawfulness of the 10 October 2003 decision to put him in detention, and that the length of the detention was not unreasonable.
(g) Sixth appeal against the continued detention
On an unspecified date the applicant lodged another appeal against the continued detention. He argued that a custodial sentence against him had entered into force and had rendered the detention redundant, and that his health had deteriorated.
On 25 July 2005 the Regional Court dismissed the appeal. It found that the applicant had not presented any evidence in respect of his health. It also found that as the applicant had earlier convictions, there were other criminal proceedings against him and he had absconded once, so there existed a real danger of him reoffending or absconding once again.
(h) Discontinuation of the detention
On 9 November 2005 the Regional Court discontinued the applicant’s detention, taking into account the entry into force of a custodial sentence against him.
A. Complaint under Article 5 § 3 in respect of the length of the applicant’s detention on remand
The applicant complained under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that his detention from 10 October 2003 to 9 November 2005 had lasted too long.
Article 5 § 3, in so far as relevant, reads:
“Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be ... entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.”
The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
B. Complaints under Articles 6 § 1 and 13 regarding the length of the criminal proceedings and the alleged lack of any effective remedy in that regard
The applicant also complained under Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention that the criminal proceedings against him had lasted an unreasonably long time and that he had not had an effective remedy in that regard.
Article 6 § 1, in so far as relevant, reads:
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal ...”
Article 13 reads:
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”
The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of these complaints and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
C. The remainder of the applicant’s complaints
The Court has examined the remainder of the applicant’ complaints as submitted by him. However, in the light of all the material in its possession, and in so far as the matters complained of are within its competence, the Court finds that they did not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols.
It follows that this part of the application must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaints concerning the length of his detention from 10 October 2003 to 9 November 2005 and the length of the criminal proceedings and the lack of any effective remedy in that regard;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Claudia Westerdiek Rait Maruste