Application No. 12445/86
                      by G.
                      against Austria

        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 10 July 1989, the following members being present:

              MM. C.A. NØRGAARD, President
                  J.A. FROWEIN
                  S. TRECHSEL
                  F. ERMACORA
                  G. SPERDUTI
                  E. BUSUTTIL
                  G. JÖRUNDSSON
                  A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                  A. WEITZEL
                  J.-C. SOYER
                  H.G. SCHERMERS
                  H. DANELIUS
                  G. BATLINER
                  J. CAMPINOS
                  H. VANDENBERGHE
             Mrs.  G.H. THUNE
             Sir  Basil HALL
             MM.  F. MARTINEZ
                  C.L. ROZAKIS
             Mrs.  J. LIDDY
             Mr.  L. LOUCAIDES

             Mr.  H.C. KRÜGER, 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 7 July 1986
by G. against Austria and registered on 10 October 1986 under
file No. 12445/86;

        Having regard to:

     -  the observations submitted by the respondent Government on
        1 September 1988 and the observations in reply submitted
        by the applicant on 18 October 1988;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:


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

        The applicant, an Austrian citizen born in 1937, is a
businessman resident in Vienna.  Before the Commission he is
represented by Dr. K. Bernhauser, a lawyer practising in Vienna.

        On 22 April 1981 bankruptcy proceedings were instituted in
respect of the applicant's firm.  On 13 May 1981 the bankruptcy court
concerned filed a report (Anzeige) against the applicant on the
grounds of a suspicion of fraud and negligent bankruptcy.

        On 21 May 1981 the applicant was interrogated as a suspect by
the Horn Police Constabulary (Gendarmeriepostenkommando).

        On 30 May 1981 the Horn Police Constabulary notified the Horn
District Court (Bezirksgericht) that the applicant was suspected of
having embezzled.

        On 17 June 1981 the Krems Public Prosecutor's Office applied
for the institution of preliminary investigations against the
applicant who was suspected of having committed, inter alia, the
offences of serious fraud and embezzlement.  The file was then
transmitted to the investigating judge at the Krems Regional Court

        On 19 October 1981 the Regional Police Authority (Landesgen-
darmeriekommando) of Lower Austria at Krems introduced before the
Krems Public Prosecutor's Office charges (Strafanzeige) against the
applicant relating to various offences in connection with his
insolvency in 1978 and his bankruptcy in 1981.  The Regional Police
Authority also submitted an investigation report counting 656 pages.

        On 30 November 1981 the Krems Public Prosecutor's Office
indicted the applicant before the Krems Regional Court on the grounds
of negligent and fraudulent bankruptcy offences, of embezzlement, and
of serious professional fraud.  The bill of indictment which numbered
altogether 31 pages and listed 22 counts divided the offences into
four groups.

        Thus, the applicant was accused, first, of having negligently
caused, as manager of two of his companies as well as a private
person, damages to a number of creditors.  In particular, he had
between 1972 and 1980 recklessly and disproportionately brought about
his insolvency and from February 1980 until 21 May 1981, in full
knowledge of his insolvency and to the detriment of his creditors,
entered further debts or paid old debts and not requested in due
course the opening of bankruptcy proceedings.

        Second, the applicant was accused of having sold, or kept
secret, part of his fortune and thus having diminished the payment of
his creditors whereby he had caused damages of over 100,000 AS.  Thus,
he had sold real estate of his, on which he had a petrol station and
a coffee bar, to his wife after certain bankruptcy proceedings had
been instituted, though he had paid only part of the purchase price by
transferring mortgages on the property.  Moreover, shortly before the
institution of the bankruptcy proceedings he had sold a car to a
certain Allro car company which, while belonging to the applicant,
was actually run by nominees (Strohmänner).  Finally, during the
bankruptcy proceedings he had kept secret in respect of his personal
fortune the fact that he was the owner of the Allro company.

        Third, the applicant was accused as responsible manager of one
of his companies of having transferred property, namely five cars and
one lorry which had been entrusted to him, to third persons and
of having thereby unlawfully enriched himself.  Fourth, the applicant
had by unlawful and fraudulent means enriched himself in respect of a
further ten cars.

        The bill of indictment was received by the investigating judge
at the Krems Regional Court on 30 December 1981 and obtained legal
force on 29 January 1982.

        On 2 November 1983 a hearing was fixed which took place on
23 and 24 November 1983 before the Krems Regional Court.  The
applicant mainly pleaded not guilty or did not comment.  The Court
also heard altogether 26 witnesses.  Upon application of the
applicant's lawyer the Court decided to order the preparation of an
expert opinion as to the actual moment when the applicant's companies
had become insolvent.  The Court dismissed the further request of the
applicant's lawyer also to order the preparation of an expert opinion
by a specialist in the assessment of real estate; it considered that
the respective questions were either already answered in the file or
constituted legal questions which the Court had to resolve.

        On 16 December 1983 and 27 January 1984, the Krems Regional
Court instructed Messrs. W. and H. to prepare the expert opinion.
Messrs. W. and H., however, were not available.

        On 1 February 1984 the Regional Court instructed the expert
accountant, Mr. N, to prepare an opinion on the reasons and the
actual moment of the insolvency of the applicant's company as well as
on the date when this insolvency had become apparent.

        This opinion was submitted on 24 October 1984.  It contained
altogether 82 pages including various tables depicting, inter alia,
balance sheets, accounts and the applicant's fortune.  When preparing
the opinion Mr. N. constantly kept the Regional Court informed of his

        On 12 November 1984 the Krems Regional Court fixed a further
hearing for 29 November 1984.  This was cancelled as the applicant
was bed-ridden.  Instructed by the Regional Court, Dr. G. submitted
on 7 December 1984 a medical opinion according to which the
applicant was unable to stand trial (verhandlungsunfähig) until
15 December 1984.

        On 19 December 1984 the Public Prosecutor's Office requested
the Court again to fix a hearing.

        On 20 December 1984 the Krems Regional Court decided to
suspend the proceedings in view of a new medical expert opinion
according to which the applicant suffered from psychovegetative heart
and circulatory disorders.

        On 31 January 1985 the Krems Regional Court ordered a
further medical opinion from Dr. G. as to the applicant's ability to
stand trial.  This was submitted on 13 February 1985.

        On 11 March 1985, the Regional Court determined the fees for
the expert opinion of Mr. N.  Against this decision the Krems Public
Prosecutor's Office filed an appeal whereupon on 9 April 1985 the
case-file was transmitted, until 23 May 1985, to the Vienna Court of
Appeal (Oberlandesgericht).

        Upon the Regional Court's instruction of 9 December 1985,
Dr. G. submitted on 20 December 1985 a further medical opinion on the
applicant's ability to stand trial.

        On 27 December 1985 the Regional Court fixed a hearing for
30 January 1986.  However, on 8 January 1986 the expert Mr. N.
informed the Court that he could not attend on that date.  A hearing
was then fixed for 13 March 1986.

        On 11 March 1986 the Court was informed of the unsuccessful
summons of the witness K. As the Public Prosecutor's Office and the
applicant's lawyer declared that the presence of the witness was
essential, the hearing was postponed until 12 June 1986.

        On 2 June 1986 the applicant transmitted to the Regional Court
a written submission in which he pleaded guilty in respect of most
counts except the second group of offences concerning the diminution
of payment of his creditors.  The applicant pointed out that it was
therefore now unnecessary to hear further witnesses.  For this reason,
and also to save costs, he requested the Court not to hear the expert
Mr. N.

        The hearing took place on 12 June 1986.  The applicant now
pleaded guilty in respect of most offences.  The Court still heard one
witness.  The Court then pronounced its judgment.  It convicted the
applicant of negligent and fraudulent bankruptcy offences, of
embezzlement, and of serious professional fraud.  The applicant was
sentenced to two years' imprisonment.  At the hearing the applicant
filed a plea of nullity (Nichtigkeitsbeschwerde) and an appeal
(Berufung) against the judgment.

        The Regional Court's judgment was served on the applicant on
2 March 1987.  Therein, the Regional Court found the applicant guilty
on most counts stated in the bill of indictment of 30 November 1981.
It acquitted the applicant on three counts of the second group of
offences concerning the diminution of payment of his creditors.  The
Court, observing that the applicant had been convicted to the extent
that he had pleaded guilty, considered this as a mitigating
circumstance.  As aggravating circumstances it considered the
seriousness of the offences and the fact that a number of them had

        On 1 September 1987 the Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichtshof)
partly upheld the applicant's plea of nullity.  It set aside the
finding of guilt on three counts and in this respect referred the case
back to the Krems Regional Court for a new decision.  In respect of
the remaining offences the Supreme Court itself adjudged the case and
sentenced the applicant to 20 months' imprisonment.

        Meanwhile the applicant filed a petition for pardon.  The
case-file was then transmitted to the Federal Ministry of Justice
where it remained from 13 November 1987 until 28 January 1988.  The
petition for pardon was eventually dismissed.

        To the extent that the Supreme Court referred the case back to
the Krems Regional Court, the Krems Public Prosecutor's Office
withdrew the remaining charges on 12 February 1988 on the ground that,
even if the applicant was convicted in this respect, no supplementary
sentence was to be expected.  On the basis thereof the Krems Regional
Court terminated the proceedings on 17 February 1988.


        The applicant complains under Article 6 para. 1 of the
Convention of the length of the proceedings.  While he was indicted on
30 November 1981 of offences which reached back to 1972, the first
hearing took place only on 23 and 24 November 1983 and the second
hearing only on 12 June 1986.


        The application was introduced on 7 July 1986 and registered
on 10 October 1986.

        On 6 October 1987 the Commission decided to bring the
application to the notice of the respondent Government and to invite
them to submit written observations on its admissibility and merits
pursuant to Rule 42 para. 2 (b) of its Rules of Procedure.

        On 15 April 1988 the Commission decided, upon the request of
the respondent Government, to extend the time-limit for their written
observations until 1 September 1988 in view of the pending proceedings
concerning the applicant's petition for pardon.

        The respondent Government's observations were submitted on
1 September 1988 and the reply thereto by the applicant on
18 October 1988.


        The applicant complains of the length of the criminal
proceedings against him.  He relies on Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of
the Convention which provides, insofar as it is relevant:

        "In the determination ... of any criminal charge against him
        everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable

        The Government submit that the proceedings were unusually
complex.  For instance, offences had to be investigated which were
committed between 1972 and 1981.  Moreover, the applicant himself
contributed to the length of the proceedings in that he first denied
the charges and gave misleading explanations.  As regards the conduct
of the authorities, the Government have submitted a time-chart on the
proceedings (included in THE FACTS below).  They contend that the
preliminary investigations instituted against the applicant were
completed very speedily, which in turn however led to a more extended
trial.  Subsequently, the Krems Regional Court had to prepare the
hearing scheduled for 2 November 1983 with particular care.  For
instance, a total of 29 witnesses had to be summoned.

        The Commission considers that the applicant's complaints under
Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention raise complex issues of
fact and law which can only be resolved by an examination of the
merits.  The application cannot, therefore, be declared manifestly
ill-founded.  No other grounds for inadmissibility have been

        For these reasons, the Commission

        without prejudging the merits of the case.

Secretary to the Commission              President of the Commission

     (H.C. KRÜGER)                            (C.A. NØRGAARD)