(Application no. 34165/05)
2 June 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 R.H. v. Finland,
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President,
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 12 May 2009,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
“(1) The Appeal Court shall hold a main hearing regardless of whether one has been requested, if a decision on the matter turns on the credibility of the testimony admitted in the District Court or the findings of the District Court in an inspection, or on new testimony to be admitted in the Appeal Court. In this event, the evidence admitted in the District Court shall be readmitted and the inspection carried out again in the main hearing, unless there is an impediment to this.
(2) If the evidence referred to in paragraph (1) cannot be readmitted at the main hearing, the decision of the District Court shall not be changed for that part, unless the evidence for any special reason is to be assessed differently. However, a decision on a charge may be altered in favour of the defendant in a criminal case.”
“A fair trial requires in some situations the holding of an oral hearing at the appellate level. The consideration of a matter cannot, according to subsection 2 of the proposed section, be discontinued in the filtering procedure if a full-scale procedure is necessary for the purposes of the legal security of the parties. The appeal courts are therefore required to apply the provisions on the filtering procedure in a way that meets the requirements of basic and human rights, for example so that the decisions made when using the filtering procedure do not, in an individual case, violate the right to an oral hearing."
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal ...”
1. The parties' submissions
2. The Court's assessment
35. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention as regards the refusal to hold an oral hearing at the appellate stage.
II. REMAINDER OF THE APPLICATION
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 UNANIMOUSLY
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts:
(i) EUR 2,000 (two thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 2,000 (two thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of costs and expenses;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts 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 2 June 2009, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Nicolas Bratza
Deputy Registrar President