(TRANSLATIDN) THE FACTS The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows . The applicant was born at Borgerhout (Belgium) on 19 October 1927 . At the time of the introduction of his application he was detained in the State Mental Hospital in Tournai . The applicant has not been represented and has refused all legal aid in the proceedings before the Commission . In 1970, the applicant was prosecuted on charges of assault, threatening language and public use of an assumed name . By a judgment of 23 May 1970 the Brussels criminal court, on the basis of a psychiatric report drawn up on 26 March 1970 by Dr . X. which concluded that the applicant was suffering from a severe mental disorder making him incapable of controlling his actions, ordered that the applicant be detained under Article 7 of the Social Protection (Mental Defectives and Habitual Delinquents) Act of 9 April 1930 . This judgment was upheld by a judgment of the Brussels Court of Appeal on 19 June 1970 . The applicant's appeal against that judgment, on the grounds of a violation of his defence rights, was rejected by the Court of Cassation on 14 September 1970 . By letter of 17 April 1984 to the Chairman of the Mental Health Review Board for the psychiatric wing of Forest Prison, the applicant requested the Board under Article 18 of the above-mentioned Act to examine his case and order his release . In the same letter he requested the appointment of official defence counsel . 56 By letr.er of 9 May 1984 the President of the Board informed Mr . M., a trainee lawyer oit the Brussels Bar, that he had been appointed as the applicant's lawyer . The Ietter read as follows : "I have the honour to inforrn you Ihat, in the interests of ascertaining the currerit cond'.tion of Michel Merkier, the Mental Health Review Board or one of its members will go on 17 May 1984 to the'.Cournai merital hospital where yeur client, who is applying for release, is detained . Ttte Board c3nsiders that it is not in the patient's interest to be transferred to Forest Prison to be heard there . Consequently, ancl unlese you have serious reasons for wishing a clifferent procedure to be followed, your client will be heard there on 17 May 1984 at 10 a.m. You are invited to be present at the hearing to assist your client. No decision will, however, be taken on that day and the case will be referi-ed to a later hearing which will be held on 24 May 1984 at 9-11 am al Forest Prison in the patient's absence ; the Public Prosecutor will be heard and you will also be called. 'rhe reports provided by the governing board and the doctor ol'the Mental Hospital concerning any change in the patient's mental condition and behaviour, may be consulted at the Forest Prison registry on I I, 14, 15 and 16 May 1984 frori 8 arn to 12 noon and from 2 pm to 4 pm . " At the Board's hearing held on 17 May 1984 at the Tournui Mental Hospital, the Chairman informed the applicant that Mr. M. had bee.n appointed to defend him and wauld be heard by the Board cn 24 May 1984 at Forest Prison . The appointment of the lawyer was confirtned by a note of 17 May 1984 from Mr . D ., social assistant at the Tournai hospital, to the applicant . At the end of the hearing, after the applicant had been heard, the Board stated that the, decision would be taken at Forest on 24 Mav 1984 . According to the applicant, the Chairman of the Board consider+ .d postponing the examination of the case until 21 June 1984 to enable the applicarit to contact his lawyer . By letter of 21 May 1984 the applizant requested an inteiview with Mr . M. This letter appears to have remained unanswered . On 24 May 1984, aftet having heard Mr . M . and in agreement with the opinion of the doctors who considered that the applicant was "still medically deliriaus", the Mental He.alth Review Board for the psychiatric wing of Forest Prison dismissed the applicant's request for release on the ground that his condition had not sufficiently improved and that the conclitions for his rehabilitation were ne•t met . On 29 May 1984 the applicant wrote to the Chairnwn of the Board to request details of the procedure followed . On the same date he appeale.d to the Court of Cassation against the decision of 24 May 1984. Alleging a breach of his defence rights, he complained that he ha d 57 been questioned on 17 May 1984 in the absence of Mr . M . and that, notwithstanding his request for a postponement of the examination of the case to enable his lawyer to come and hear him, the Board had taken its decision on 24 May after hearing the lawyer who was not familiar with his file and could not, therefore, provide him with a proper defence . By letter of 4 June 1984 the applicant asked Mr . M . to apply to the Chairman of the Board for his case to be examined at the Board's meeting on 21 June 1984 and, if appropriate, to come and hear him . This letter, too, remained unanswered . On 18 July 1984 the Court of Cassation rejected the applicant's appeal . It considered that the decision of 24 May 1984 was lawful on the grounds that, by letter of 9 May 1984, Mr . M . had been invited by the Chairman of the Board to assist the applicant at the hearing of 17 May and that Mr . M . had not asked for a different procedure to be followed . It added that the file had been made available to Mr . M . for four days, that the applicant had been heard at Tournai on 17 May 1984, and Mr. M. at Forest on 24 May 1984, and that it did not appear from the documents in the case that the applicant or his lawyer had asked for the case to be postponed . COMPLAINTS The applicant, who claims to have been arbitrarily and unlawfully deprived of his freedoni, complains of a violation of Article 6 para . I of the Convention on the grounds that, during the examination by the Mental Health Review Board, of his request for release of 17 April 1984 he was not able to defend himself properly . He claims in particular that he was heard in the absence of his lawyer who, when he was heard a week later, was unable to defend him effectively since there had been no contact between them and his lawyer's information had all been obtained from fabricated records, namely the file of the criminal case and the medical files . He adds that he was not informed in good time of the name and address of the officially appointed lawyer, since this information was only communicated to him on 18 May 1984 . The applicant further stated : - that the Board never gave him any opportunity to put his case and that the procedure described above was followed for all his requests for release since 1980, with one exception ; - that he did not receive a copy of the disputed decision of 24 May 1984, and was therefore unable to know the reasons for the rejection of his request for release. 58 rHE LAW The applicant, who is detained in a mental hospiial, eomplai~is of the procedure used in the examiruation of hi:; requcst for rclease by the Mr.ntal Health Review Board and, in particular, of a breach of h Is defence rights ori the grounds that he was heard in the absence of his lawyer who was unable, at the he.aring on a later date, tc defend hitn eflèctively . }[e further complains tha: he was not given the opportunity to put his case, when he appeared before the Board, and that he was not sent a copy of the decision ol' 24 May 1984 . The Government note first of all that the appleant did not raise a breach of Article 5 para . 4 of the Convention before the Court of Cassation, but only a breach of the rights of defence . On the merits of che case, they consider that the pracedure follownd by the Mental Health Rr.view Board tneets the require.ments of P .rticle 5 para. 4 of the Convention, since the Board in questicn has the nature of a court and offers the person concerned the stfeguards applicable to judicial proceedings . The Government concede that Mr . NI . was not present when the applicant appeared before the Mental Health Review Board, ôut considu+r thou the Inwyer's prexena ; at the heurinig on 1 7 May 191 :4 cotdd not have helped the applicant any more than Mr. M .'s pleadings before the Bcard on 24 May, since in any case the applicant's mental eoridition,_ould nat have been discussed in detail in the applicant's presence . In this onnection, the applicant explains that Mr . M.'s presence, although desirable, was not indispensable when he appeared on 17 Mav 1984, since his lawyer cauld have d:ferided hiin effectively on 24 May 1984 provided that th?y had been ableto contaci one another and that he had been able to inspect ttie file . This, however, was not the caae . The Commission notes first of all that, in formulating his complaints, the applicant does not complain as such of thejudgmem of the Brussels Court of Appeal of 19 Jun : 1970 ordering his de.tentic n in a mental hospital . 13e that is it may, tlte application shculd be considered out of time in this respect under Article 26 of the Convention, which provides that a case must be brought before the Conunission within six nionth ; from the date on which the final decision was taken . MDre than six menth.: elapsrA between 14 September 1970, the date on w'nich the applieant's appeal against thr_ above-mentioncd judgment of 19 June, 1970 was dismissed, and 6 August 1984, when the application was introduced . '['he applica_it, on the other hand . intends to complain of a violation of his rights of defence during the proceedings for the e.xamination of his request for release dated 17 April 1984, and in that connection he relies upon Aiticle 6 of the Convention . Article 6 para . I provides inter ali<t : "In Ihe determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an indepcndent and inipartial tribunal established by law . " 59 The Commission has already held, in substance, that a decision of the Mental Health Review Board, ruling on a detainee's request for release, did not have the character either of a decision given in the determination of civil rights and obligations or of a decision determining a criminal charge . It follows that the procedure at issue is not covered by Article 6 para . I of the Convention (No . 4675/70, Dec. 20.3 .72, Collection 40 p. 21). The complaint should, however, be examined under Article 5 para . 4 of the Convention. The Commission recalls its frequent finding that, in cases of detention of indefinite duration, it is advisable to consider under Article 5 para . 4 of the Convention whether the applicant had access to a remedy enabling him to have the lawfulness of his detention reviewed at reasonable intervals (see, inter alia, No. 6859/74, Dec. 2.10.75, D.R. 3 p. 139). Article 5 para. 4 of the Convention provides : "Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful ." Although the only point on which the applicant appealed to the Court of Cassation was the absence of his lawyer when he appeared on 17 May 1984 before the Mental Health Review Board, the Commission considers that the complaint that he was not able to put his case and did not receive a copy of the Mental Health Review Board's decision of 24 May 1984 should not be dismissed for failure to exhaust domestic remedies, since these two complaints may be considered to be specific aspects of the general complaint of the breach of the rights of defence (see, in this respect, No . 10857/84, Dec . 15 .7.86, D.R. 48 p. 106) . Under the Belgian Social Protection Act, the applicant made repeated applications to the Mental Health Review Board for Forest psychiatric wing for a mling on his applications for release . Before the Commission, he complains of the procedure which led to the said Board's decision of 24 May 1984 ordering the continuation of his detention . The Cotnvtission recalls that it has previously found that appeals to the Mental Health Review Board, with regard both to its organisation and to its proceedings and defence rights essentially met the requirements of Article 5 para . 4 of the Convention (No. 6859/74, Dec . 2.10.75, loc. cit.) . In this case the applicant does not dispute that the Mental Health Review Board has the nature of a court with regard to its organisation, in the sense that it is independent of the executive and of the parties (see, inter alia, Eur. Court H .R., De Wilde, Ooms and Versyp judgment of 18 November 1970, Series A no . 12, p. 41, para. 78). He maintains that his defence rights before the Board were not respected in view of the fact that the assistance of Mr . M ., required by law, was not effective. 60 The Oommmion considers that, in this case, the principal question whiah arises is whether ttie fact that the applicant was not assisted by Mr . M . at the Merrtal Health 13eview Board's hearing held in Taurnai on 17 May 1984 and that Mr . M . was heard on 24 May by the same Board at Forest allegedly without any contact having been possible between the applicant and the lawyer, infringed Article 5 para . 4 of the Couvention . As the Court has emphasised, this provision makes Ihe condition 'that the procedure foC.owed has a judicial character and gives to the individual concerned guarantees appropriate to the kind of deprivation of liberty in question, cf [a] judicial procedure the forms of which may vary from one domain to anot'ier" (Eur . Court H.R., De Wilde, Oonis and Versyp judgment, loc. cit., pp. 41-42, paras . 76-78 ; X . v . Llnited Kingdom judgment of'{ November 19131, Series A no. 46, p. 23, para . 53) . At the present stage of the proceedings, the Contmisiion considers that it is not in a position to de-,lare the application manifestly ill-founded, because it raises issues sufficiently complex to require a detailed examination of the merits . For these reasons, the Cominission , DECLARES THE APPLICATION ADMISSIBLE, wirhout in any way prejudging Ihe merits . 61