Application No. 12262/86
                      by S.
                      against Austria

        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 8 September 1988, the following members being present:

              MM. C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                  E. BUSUTTIL
                  G. JÖRUNDSSON
                  A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                  A. WEITZEL
                  J.-C. SOYER
                  G. BATLINER
                  H. VANDENBERGHE
             Mrs.  G.H. THUNE
             Sir  Basil HALL
             MM.  F. MARTINEZ
                  C.L. ROZAKIS
             Mrs.  J. LIDDY

             Mr.  J. RAYMOND, Deputy Secretary to the Commission

        Having regard to Article 25 of the Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

        Having regard to the application introduced on 26 May 1986
by S. Austria and registered on 11 July 1986 under file No. 12262/86;

        Having regard to the report provided for in Rule 40 of the
Rules of Procedure of the Commission;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:


        The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be
summarised as follows:

        The applicant, an Austrian citizen apparently born in 1946, is
a labourer resident in Linz.  Before the Commission he is represented
by Dr.  G. Tews, a lawyer practising in Linz.

        The applicant has been married since 1974 and the father of
six children, four of whom live with their parents.  One daughter
lives in a childrens' home, another daughter, A., has been living with
her grandparents since her birth in 1972.


        On 18 November 1984 the daughter A. was visiting her parents.
According to the applicant's subsequent submissions, on this occasion
A. told him that her breast was hurting.  The applicant then went into
the children's room with the daughter, locked the door and examined
A.'s breast, whereupon he advised her to visit a doctor.

        The next morning at school, two friends of A. went to the
teacher, Mrs.  J., and told her that something terrible had happened to
A.  Mrs.  J. questioned A. and then called the police.

        According to the police minutes (Bericht) prepared on
19 November 1984 by the Linz Federal Police Direction (Bundespolizei-
direktion), A. told the police that she had been abused by her father.
She claimed that he had gone into a room with her and, after taking
off his trousers and shirt, had lain on her.  Thereby he had asked
her about his genitals and had shown her how to make children.  A.
stated that the applicant had not touched her and had not undressed
completely.  During the occurrences she had not called for help as the
applicant had ordered her to keep quiet.  In A.'s submissions, the
applicant frequently beat her, particularly when he was drunk, for
which reasons she often had bruises.

        On 19 November 1984 the applicant was arrested on suspicion
inter alia of having committed an indecent act with a minor.  On the
same day, the applicant explained before the police that A. had
complained of pains in her breast, whereupon he had examined it.
However, he had thought nothing of doing so and had not done so to be
aroused.  The applicant denied A.'s statements, namely that he had
undressed or made certain movements, or that he had threatened her.
The applicant also denied having caused bruises to the children by
beating them.

        On 20 November 1984 the police questioned A.  She denied having
complained about breast pains, or that the applicant had touched her,
though she had clearly felt him being aroused.  According to the same
police minutes, two police officers visited the room concerned.  They
noted that the bed was in the darkest corner of the room, thus
contradicting the applicant's statement that he had wanted to look at
his daughter.  According to the police minutes, when visiting the
room, A. had told the police officers that the applicant had lain on
her.  The police minutes concluded that the impression gained was that
A. was telling the truth.

        The applicant was also questioned by the police on 20 November
1984.  He was informed that A. upheld her statements.  The applicant
now submitted that while examining his daughter he had lain sideways
between A.'s legs.  He denied all other accusations.

        Thereupon, the Linz Federal Police Direction filed with the
Linz Public Prosecutor's Office (Staatsanwaltschaft) a criminal report
(Strafanzeige) in which it suspected the applicant of having abused A.
to submit to indecent acts.

        On 22 November 1984 the applicant was informed by the
investigating judge at the Linz Regional Court (Landgericht) of the
criminal proceedings instituted against him.  The applicant claimed
that he was not guilty and requested A. to be heard as soon as
possible.  He also announced that he would file an appeal against his
detention on remand.

        The investigating judge at the Linz Reginal Court questioned
A. on 23 November 1984.  The latter was informed of her right under
S. 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, according to which, as a
member of the accused's family, she was exempted from the obligation
to give evidence.  However A. expressed the wish to give evidence.
After reiterating the occurrences on 18 November 1984 she pointed out
that the applicant had threatened to beat her with a rubber hose if
she spoke to others about the occurrences.

        On 23 November 1984 the applicant was also heard by the
investigating judge.  He withdrew his appeal against his detention on
remand.  He explained that there was a rubber hose in the house with
which he occasionally threatened the children, though he had never
caused them any bruises.  In respect of the events on 18 November 1984
the applicant told the investigating judge that it was possible and
probable that he had been aroused during the incident but he could no
longer remember.  He might also have made certain movements, though
again he could not remember.

        The investigating judge then pointed out that in fact the
applicant was now admitting the offences.  The applicant thereupon
admitted having committed an indecent act with a minor.  However, he
denied having undressed or having asked A. about his genitals, or
having threatened her.  He also could not recall whether or not he
had been aroused.

        On 29 November 1984 the applicant requested his release from
detention, stating that he had nothing to do with the whole affair.
He was released on 24 December 1984.

        On 10 June 1985 the Public Prosecutor's Office indicted the
applicant, inter alia, of having committed an indecent act with a


        The trial took place at the Linz Regional Court on
30 September 1985.  A. stated at the outset that she would avail
herself of her right under S. 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
(Strafprozessordnung) to refuse to give evidence.

        The applicant, who was assisted by a lawyer, was heard first.
He submitted that he was not guilty, and that his statements before
the investigating judge on 23 November 1984 were incorrect.  A.
herself had on 18 November 1984 lifted up her pullover, and if she
said that she had felt him being aroused, this was probably due to a
bunch of keys which he had in his pocket.

        The applicant explained that on 23 November 1984 before the
investigating judge he had been upset (aufgeregt) and had been pressed
hard (bedrängt) by the investigating judge who had told him that, if
he did not admit his guilt, he would have to stay in detention until
the trial.  He also did not remember everything he had said on that
occasion.  In respect of the rubber hose, the applicant explained that
he only threatened his children with it.  In the applicant's
submissions, A. hated him and now wanted to "land him in it"
("hineintunken").  Another son, M., had told him of a conversation
with A., whereby the latter said that she had made up the whole story
and that she wished he, the applicant, would be dead.

        The applicant's wife, heard as a witness, stated that she
could not recall whether her husband had ever been aggressive towards
the children.  She believed that A. had reported the applicant to the
police because she hated him.  One of A.'s brothers, M., had reported
to her, the mother, that A. had told him that she had made up the
whole story.  A second brother had also heard this.

        The teacher, Mrs.  J., testified that she had once noticed
bruises on A.'s legs and arms.  A. had then told her that the
applicant had thrown wooden slippers at her.  Mrs.  J. recalled how A.
had told her about the events on 18 November 1984.  In Mrs.  J.'s
opinion, A. did not lie very often, and she did not have the
impression that A. was now making up a story.  Mrs.  J. also did not
have the impression that A. had convinced herself (reingelernt) of the
story, though she could also not exclude it.  She observed that she
was a person to whom A. had always had confidence.

        The Court also heard the medical opinion of a professor who
concluded that the applicant was on the verge of debility (Grenzdebilität)
and inclined to chronic alcoholism.  It was possible that such persons
could become aggressive and also commit indecent acts.

        Despite the applicant's objections, the police minutes
recording A.'s statements before the police and the investigating
judge were then read out in Court according to S. 252 para. 2 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure.  According to S. 252 para. 1, minutes of
the questioning of witnesses may be read out at the trial if, without
being entitled thereto, they refuse to give evidence.

        According to the practice of the Austrian courts, the
statements which the same witnesses had previously made before the
police nevertheless could be read out as they were considered as
documents within the meaning of S. 252 para. 2 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure.  This provision provides that reports on inspections and
tests as well as other types of documents and papers relevant to the
matter must be read out unless both parties waive their reading.

        Upon the applicant's request, the Court then asked the
applicant's son, M., to testify.  However, M. invoked his right under
S. 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure not to do so.

        On 30 September 1985 the Regional Court convicted the applicant
of forcing A. to commit an indecent act, of having committed an
indecent act with a minor, of abusing his position of authority, and
of exercising compulsion (Nötigung) on her.  The applicant was
sentenced to one year's imprisonment.

        In its judgment the Court found it established that on
18 November 1984 the applicant locked himself into a room with A.,
sat next to her on a bed, and then suddenly threw her back onto the
bed.  He then undressed, with the exception of his underwear, thereby
threatening her, if she would call out.  The Court found that the
applicant then rubbed his genitals on those of A. After being aroused,
he stopped and dressed.  He then threatened to beat A. with a rubber
hose if she reported the incident to anybody.

        The Court noted that the applicant had admitted the offences
before the investigating judge.  If before the Court he now argued
that he only did so to be released from detention, the Court found
that he had then expressly stated that he was admitting the offences.
It was also not credible if the applicant later claimed that he no
longer recalled what he had said before the investigating judge.

        On the other hand, the Court regarded A.'s statements before
the police as credible.  In particular, she had not spoken of a gross
sexual act (massives sexuelles Vorgehen), as would be likely if she
were fabricating a story, and her statement to Mrs.  J. coincided with
that before the police.  The Court also regarded as reliable the
teacher's personal opinion that A. was telling the truth.  If the
applicant and his wife claimed that one son, M., had heard A. stating
that she was making up the whole story, the Court found this to be too
vague to call in question A.'s statement.

        Against this judgment the applicant filed with the Supreme
Court (Oberster Gerichtshof) a plea of nullity (Nichtigkeitsbe-
schwerde) and an appeal (Berufung).  In his plea of nullity, he
complained, inter alia, that the Regional Court relied on police

        On 20 March 1986 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicant's
plea of nullity.  The Court found, inter alia, that S. 252 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure compelled the previous court to read out the
police minutes, as long as the applicant had the possibility, by means
of his own statements and of requests for the taking of evidence,
subsequently to weaken or even to contradict the evidence adduced,
including the police minutes.  This had been the case in the
proceedings at issue in view of the fact that the applicant's wife,
Mrs.  J., and a medical expert had been heard at the trial, and an
attempt had even been made to hear M.

        On 10 April 1986, the Supreme Court also dismissed the
applicant's appeal.


        The applicant complains under Article 6 paras. 1 and 3 (d)
that he did not have a fair and public hearing and that he could not
put questions to the witness incriminating him.  He submits in
particular that the police minutes recording A.'s statements on 19 and
20 November 1984 constituted the principal evidence incriminating
him.  Despite his objections these minutes were read out at the trial,
after A. had availed herself of her right under S. 152 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure not to give evidence.  Yet neither he nor his
lawyer had been present when the police minutes were being prepared.

        The applicant observes that in Austrian legal practice the
accused or his representative are not as a rule present when in
preliminary proceedings a witness is heard who could refuse to
give evidence according to S. 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Yet time and again the witness concerned later will indeed invoke this
right.  In the applicant's submissions, the majority of legal writers
in Austria share the view that such minutes should only be read out at
the trial if they have been prepared in the framework of the same
guarantees as the evidence reached during the trial.


        The applicant submits that the main incriminating evidence
employed by the Linz Regional Court for his conviction constituted the
police minutes recording A.'s statements on 19 and 20 November 1984.
He complains that contrary to Article 6 para. 3 (d) (Art. 6-3-d) of
the Convention the Court relied on these minutes although he could not
put questions to the witness concerned.  As a result he also did not
have a fair and public hearing within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

        With regard to the judicial decisions of which the applicant
complains, the Commission recalls that, in accordance with Article 19
(Art. 19) of the Convention, its only task is to ensure the observance
of the obligations undertaken by the Parties in the Convention.  In
particular, it is not competent to deal with an application alleging
that errors of law or fact have been committed by domestic courts,
except where it considers that such errors might have involved a
possible violation of any of the rights and freedoms set out in the
Convention.  The Commission refers, on this point, to its constant
case-law (see e.g.  No. 458/59, Dec. 29.3.60, Yearbook 3 pp. 222, 236;
No. 5258/71, Dec. 8.2.73, Collection 43 pp. 71, 77; No. 7987/77, Dec.
13.12.79, D.R. 18 pp. 31, 45).  It follows that the Commission cannot
examine for instance whether or not the testimony of the witness A.
was credible.

        It is true that the applicant also complains under Article 6
paras. 1 and 3 (d) (Art. 6-1, 6-3-d) that he did not have a fair and
public hearing in that the Regional Court, when convicted him, relied
on police minutes in respect of which he did not have the opportunity
to put questions to the witness concerned.

        As regards the conduct of the proceedings before the Regional
Court, the Commission sees no indication that the applicant, who was
assisted by a lawyer, could not present his case properly or that the
proceedings were unfairly conducted by this Court.  Thus, at the trial
the applicant was heard by the Court together with his wife, a
teacher, and a medical expert.  When reaching its judgment the
Regional Court examined both the exculpatory testimony of the
applicant and his wife as well as the incriminating evidence.  In
respect of A.'s statements, the Court considered in detail whether or
not they were credible.  The Court concluded that the incriminating
evidence concerning the applicant was sufficiently credible ant that
the exculpatory evidence was not, and on this basis it convicted the

        Insofar as the applicant complains that the Regional Court
relied on police minutes in respect of which he could not put questions
to the witness concerned, the Commission recalls that the reading out
of statements at the trial, to which the judgment later has recourse,
cannot in itself be regarded as being inconsistent with these
provisions.  Nevertheless the use made of these statements must comply
with the rights of the defence.  On the one hand, a person charged
with a criminal offence must have the opportunity to examine or have
examined witnesses against him, particularly if he has not had the
opportunity at an earlier stage in the proceedings to question the
persons whose statements are read out at the trial and later are
relied upon in the judgment of the Court concerned (see Eur.  Court
H.R., Unterpertinger judgment of 24 November 1986, Series A No. 110,
p. 14f. para. 31).  On the other hand, Article 6 paras. 1 and 3 (d)
(Art. 6-1, 6-3-d), which are aimed at securing in criminal proceedings
equality between the defence and the prosecution, do not give an
accused an unlimited right to obtain the appearance of, and to examine
witnesses before court (see No. 9000/80, Dec. 11.3.82, D.R. 28 p.

        In the present case the Commission notes that, at the trial
before the Regional Court, A. did not give evidence as a witness.  The
Court then relied in its judgment on police minutes recording A.'s
statements before the police on 19 and 20 November 1984, without the
applicant or his lawyer being present on those occasions.  Upon the
applicant's plea of nullity, the Supreme Court held that the Regional
Court had been obliged under S. 252 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
to read out the police minutes at the trial.

        In this respect, however, the applicant has not alleged before
the Commission that he could not inform himself of the contents of the
police minutes before the trial.  He has also not shown that he filed
a request with the Court to put certain questions to the witness A.

        Moreover, the Commission notes that the Regional Court did not
rely exclusively for its conviction of the applicant on the statements
made by A. before the police on 19 and 20 November 1984.  Thus, in
its judgment of 30 September 1985 the Court took into consideration
statements made by the applicant himself, before the investigating
judge, in which he in fact admitted the offences.  The Court further
relied on the testimony of the teacher, Mrs.  J., before the Court in
whom A. had always had confidence, and whom at the trial the applicant
was able to question.

        Finally, the Commission considers that it was in the interest
of the witness A. herself, a minor who was also the victim of the
indecent act, to be spared the experience of being questioned at the
trial about the occurences with her father, the applicant.

        As a result, the Commission does not regard the recourse by
the Regional Court to the police minutes, without the applicant having
been able to put questions to A., as being inconsistent with Article 6
paras. 1 or 3 (d) (Art. 6-1, 6-3-d).  It follows that the above
complaints do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights
set out in Article 6 of the Convention.  The Commission concludes that
the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of
Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

        For these reasons, the Commission


Deputy Secretary to the Commission        President of the Commission

          (J. RAYMOND)                         (C. A. NØRGAARD)