The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 20 March 2012 as a Committee composed of:
Paulo Pinto de Albuquerque, judges,
and Françoise Elens-Passos, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 20 December 2005,
Having regard to the statement made by the Austrian Government according to which they did not intend to exercise the right to intervene in the case under Article 36 § 1 of the Convention,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr László Gombos, is a national of Austria and Hungary, who was born in 1939 and lives in Sukoró. He was represented before the Court by Mr E. Hargitai, a lawyer practising in Budapest. The Hungarian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr L. Höltzl, Agent, Ministry of Public Administration and Justice.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 5 July 1999 the applicant was interrogated on suspicion of criminal bankruptcy by the Central Investigative Department of the Hungarian Tax and Financial Control Office. On the same day his Hungarian passport, valid until 20 February 2002, was withdrawn by the Hungarian authorities.
A bill of indictment was preferred on 8 June 2000. After several hearings, the Pest Central District Court found the applicant guilty of attempted criminal bankruptcy on 4 February 2002. This judgment was quashed by the Budapest Regional Court on 13 June 2003.
In the resumed proceedings – during which the applicant possessed an Austrian passport – the Pest Central District Court held several hearings and acquitted the applicant on 26 October 2005. The judgment became final on the same day.
The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the protraction of the criminal proceedings. Moreover, relying on Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention, he complained that the withdrawal of his Hungarian passport amounted to a violation of his freedom of movement.
On 10 March 2011 the Court decided to invite the Government to submit observations on the admissibility and merits of the applicant’s complaint.
On 28 June 2011 the Government submitted their observations.
By a letter dated 29 June 2011, the Government’s observations were sent to the applicant, who was requested to submit his observations in reply by 10 August 2011, together with his claims for just satisfaction. This communication remained unanswered.
By letter dated 3 November 2011, sent by registered post, the applicant’s representative was reminded that the period allowed for the submission of his observations had expired and that no extension of time had been requested. The applicant’s attention was drawn to Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention, which provides that the Court may strike a case out where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that the applicant does not intend to pursue the application. This letter was received by the applicant’s representative on 10 November 2011.
No response to the Court’s letters has been received ever since.
The Court notes that on 3 November 2011 the applicant’s representative was reminded that the period allowed for submission of written observations had expired and he was warned of the possibility that the case might be struck out of the Court’s list. The representative did not reply to the Court.
The Court considers that, in these circumstances, the applicant may be regarded as no longer wishing to pursue his application, within the meaning of Article 37 § 1 (a) of the Convention. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 in fine, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols which require the continued examination of the case.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Elens-Passos Dragoljub Popović
Deputy Registrar President