by Tero LOUKOLA
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 23 November 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Tero Loukola, is a Finnish national who was born in 1971 and lives in Nokia. 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 applicant was apprehended by the police on 11 August 1997 on suspicion of smuggling and distributing alcohol. He was arrested the same day and detained on 14 August 1997. He was released on 4 September 1997.
Three foreign citizens connected with the smuggling activities were charged on 8 September 1997 and convicted on 30 September 1997. By an agreement with the prosecutor the pre-trial investigation was continued with regard to the other persons, including the applicant. The investigation included, among other things, executive assistance from Russia.
After an inquiry, the applicant’s counsel was informed on 15 June 1998 that a reply to the executive assistance had been received on 12 June 1998 and that the pre-trial record was going to be sent to the prosecutor together with the record of another case in which the applicant was a suspect.
The last inquiries in the matter were made on 11 May 2004 but no conclusive evidence was found during the investigation and no final pre-trial records were prepared or sent to the prosecutor. The right to institute criminal charges expired on 11 August 2007. The applicant’s counsel was informed, after his inquiry, by a letter dated 10 January 2008 that the pre-trial investigation had ended and that he should inform his client of this.
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 Tero Loukola 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 resolution 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 Tero Loukola 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).