by Jorma VUORI
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 19 May 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
David Thór Björgvinsson,
Nebojša Vučinić, judges,
and Lawrence Early, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 21 May 2008,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Jorma Vuori, is a Finnish national who was born in 1957 and lives in Tampere. He was represented before the Court by Mr Jaakko Tuutti, a lawyer practising in Tampere. The Finnish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mr Arto Kosonen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
The customs authorities were investigating a case of professional smuggling and supplying of alcoholic substances. On 18 August 1997 the applicant was apprehended and detained by the police as one of the several suspects. He was released after questioning on 5 September 1997.
More than ten years later, by a letter dated 10 January 2008, the customs authorities sent the applicant’s counsel a letter informing him of the results of their investigation. In the letter it was stated that three Russian nationals had been charged and convicted in connection with the offence. The final decision in their regard had been given on 26 March 1998. The investigation, nevertheless, had been continued in respect of the other suspects, including the applicant. The customs authorities had, inter alia, tried to identify and reach other persons who might have been able to shed more light on the events. They had also requested legal assistance from Russia. The last round of questioning in the matter had been conducted on 11 May 2004.
In their letter, the customs authorities further announced that they had not been able to obtain any decisive new evidence as to the guilt or innocence of the remaining suspects. No additional pre-trial investigation report had been put together due to defects in the investigation material. Nor had the case been referred to a public prosecutor for consideration of charges. As the offence had become time-barred on 11 August 2007, the investigation had been ended on that date. The applicant’s counsel was asked to inform his client about the termination of the investigation.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the proceedings.
On 31 March 2009 the Court received the following declaration from the Government:
“I, Arto Kosonen, Agent of the Government of Finland, declare that the Government of Finland offer to pay ex gratia EUR 10,5001 (ten thousand five hundred euros) to Mr Jorma Vuori 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 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 reso1ution of the case.”
On 6 April 2009 the Court received the following declaration signed by the applicant’s counsel:
“I, Jaakko Tuutti, the applicant’s counsel in the above-mentioned case, note that the Government of Finland are prepared to pay ex gratia the sum of EUR 10,500 (ten thousand five hundred euros) to Mr Jorma Vuori 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 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. From the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
Having consulted my client, I would inform you that he accepts the proposal and waives any further claims against Finland in respect of the facts giving rise to this application. He declares that this constitutes a final reso1ution of the case.”
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 finds no reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike the case out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Lawrence Early Nicolas Bratza
1 This sum includes EUR 10,000 non-pecuniary damage and EUR 500 costs and expenses (inclusive of VAT).