by Szilárd GNÁNDT
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 7 April 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Ireneu Cabral Barreto,
Işıl Karakaş, judges,
and Sally Dollé, Section Registrar.
Having regard to the above application lodged on 10 June 2005,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Szilárd Gnándt, is a Hungarian national who was born in 1971 and lives in Edelény. He was represented before the Court by Ms Á. Gyuris, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr L. Höltzl, Agent, Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
In 1997 criminal proceedings were instituted against the applicant. On 15 June 1998 he and 35 accomplices were indicted for fraud and other offences. A first judgment of the Mátészalka District Court was reversed by the Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County Regional Court on 30 April 2004, whose decision was in turn quashed by the Supreme Court on 17 December 2004.
In the repeated proceedings, on 21 April 2005 the Regional Court convicted the applicant of 29 counts of fraud and other offences, and sentenced him to two years' imprisonment. The court appreciated as an important mitigating factor the excessive protraction of the proceedings and stressed that this was the reason for imposing a relatively light sentence. The court went on to hold that, again because of the excessive duration of the proceedings, it was appropriate further to mitigate the punishment by suspending its execution. Once more denoting the length of the trial as its reason, it decided to limit the probationary period to three years. This judgment was upheld by the Debrecen Court of Appeal on 29 September 2005.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the proceedings.
The applicant complained that the proceedings lasted an unreasonably long time, in breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which reads as relevant:
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
The Government argued that the applicant could not claim to be a victim of a violation of Convention rights, since the Regional Court had expressly acknowledged that the proceedings had been unusually long and had provided redress by imposing a light sentence, by suspending its execution and by limiting the length of the probationary period. In any event, the authorities had displayed the requisite diligence in handling the case which had been rather complicated. The applicant contested these views.
The Court observes that, in the repeated proceedings, the Regional Court denounced the duration of the proceedings and held that the excessive lapse of time since the offence had been committed was an important mitigating factor. Because of this, it imposed a relatively light prison sentence of two years, suspended its execution and limited the probationary period to three years. Against this background, the Court finds that the applicant obtained adequate redress for the alleged violation of his right under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention to the determination within a reasonable time of the criminal charges against him. Accordingly, he can no longer claim to be a victim, for the purposes of Article 34 of the Convention, of a violation of Article 6 § 1.
This complaint is therefore manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention (see Morby v. Luxembourg (dec.), no. 27156/02, ECHR 2003-XI; Kalmár v. Hungary, no. 32783/03, § 27, 3 October 2006; Dányádi v. Hungary (dec.), no. 10656/03, 6 July 2006; Tamás Kovács v. Hungary, no. 67660/01, § 26, 28 September 2004; Lie and Berntsen v. Norway (dec.), no. 25130/94, 16 December 1999).
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Declares the application inadmissible.
Sally Dollé Françoise Tulkens