AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                      Application No. 13017/87
                      by P.
                      against Austria

        The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private
on 14 December 1988, the following members being present:

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

             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 18 May 1987 by
P. against Austria and registered on 15 June 1987 under file No.
13017/87;

        Having regard to:

-       observations submitted by the respondent Government
        on 13 June 1988 and the observations in reply submitted by
        the applicant on 29 June 1988;

        Having deliberated;

        Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

        The facts of the case may be summarised as follows.

        The applicant, born in 1945, is an Austrian national and
resident in Freistadt.  He is a businessman by profession.  Before the
Commission he is represented by Mr.  G. Tews and Mr.  C. Slana, lawyers
practising in Linz.

        On 13 May 1982 the Linz Police Office (Bundespolizeidirektion)
questioned the applicant as regards the purchase of a stolen car on
30 August 1981.  The applicant denied that he knew about the origin of
the car and alleged that he had bought it from an unknown person.

        In June 1982 the Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office
(Staatsanwaltschaft) opened investigation proceedings against K and
others on the ground that they were suspected of having stolen
numerous cars, removed the identification marks and replaced them by
the marking of wrecked cars.

        On 2 July 1982 the Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office
started investigations against the applicant, the suspicion being
that he had received stolen goods (Hehlerei).  The preliminary
investigations (Voruntersuchung) were opened in September 1982.  The
investigations against the applicant and those against K and others
were apparently joined.

        On 23 September 1982 the applicant was arrested on the basis
of a warrant of arrest issued by the Klagenfurt Regional Court (Landes-
gericht) on 14 September 1982.  On 25 September 1982 he was taken into
detention on remand.  Since 7 October 1982 the applicant was represented
by counsel.  Following proceedings to review his detention on remand
the applicant was released on bail (100,000 AS) on 28 February 1983.

        In March 1983 the case against K and others and the case
against the applicant were separated.  The vendors of the applicant's
car were convicted by the Klagenfurt Regional Court on 24 April 1984
and 18 July 1984, respectively.

        On 22 March 1984 the applicant's new defence counsel requested
the Klagenfurt Regional Court to transfer the case to the Linz
Regional Court.  The applicant was apparently at that time residing in
Linz.

        On 9 May 1984 the Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office
preferred an indictment (Anklageerhebung) against the applicant on
charges of receiving stolen goods and failure to pay maintenance
(Verletzung der Unterhaltspflicht) to his child born out of wedlock.
The Court received the bill of indictment on 11 May 1984.

        On 20 September 1984 the Austrian Supreme Court (Oberster
Gerichtshof) dismissed the applicant's request to transfer the
case to the Linz Regional Court.

        On 21 November 1984 the Klagenfurt Regional Court fixed
14 December 1984 as the date for the opening of the trial.

        On 24 November 1984 MM. Slana and Tews presented themselves as
the applicant's defence counsels.  On 27 November 1984 the applicant
requested the Regional Court to call further witnesses and to adjourn
the trial.  On 17 December 1984 the trial was fixed for 25 January 1985.
        On 25 January 1985 the Klagenfurt Regional Court opened the
trial against the applicant.  The trial was adjourned in order to take
further evidence as requested by the Prosecutor's Office and the
applicant's defence counsel.  In February 1985 a technical expert was
appointed and submitted his written opinion.

        On 29 March 1985 the Klagenfurt Regional Court resumed the
trial against the applicant.  He was convicted of receiving stolen
goods and sentenced to eight months' imprisonment.  He was acquitted
of the charge of failure to pay maintenance.  The Court ordered that
the period of his detention on remand be deducted from the sentence.
The Court found in particular that the applicant had known that the
car was stolen.  His defence that he had bought the car from K without
knowing about its origin was considered untrustworthy on the ground
that he had first alleged to have bought the car from an unknown
person.  He had only changed his defence in a written statement of 14
October 1982.  The judgment was served upon the applicant in August
1985.

        On 10 August 1985 the Klagenfurt Regional Court dismissed the
applicant's request to have his bail paid back.  On 31 October 1985
the Graz Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht), upon the applicant's
appeal (Beschwerde), quashed that decision.

        On 19 December 1985 the Austrian Supreme Court (Oberster
Gerichtshof), upon the applicant's appeal (Berufung) and plea of
nullity (Nichtigkeitsbeschwerde), quashed the judgment of 29 March 1985
insofar as he had been convicted.  The case was referred back to the
Regional Court.  The Supreme Court found that the Regional Court had not
taken sufficient evidence as regards the question whether or not the
applicant had known that the car was stolen.  The judgment was
received by the Klagenfurt Regional Court on 5 February 1986.

        On 6 March 1986 the Graz Court of Appeal dismissed the
expert's appeal (Beschwerde) against the Klagenfurt Regional Court's
decision of 7 October 1985 fixing his fees.

        On 25 August 1986 the Klagenfurt Regional Court set the date
for a new trial for 20 October 1986.

        On 10 October 1986 the Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office
requested the Klagenfurt Regional Court to transfer the case to the
Linz Regional Court where in June 1986 preliminary investigations had
been instituted against the applicant in respect of assault.  The
Klagenfurt Regional Court transferred the case to the Linz Regional
Court on 15 October 1986.

        On 4 November 1986 the Linz Regional Court decided to transfer
the case back to the Klagenfurt Regional Court.  It found that having
regard to the different stages of the two cases they had to be dealt
with separately in order to avoid unnecessary delays.  The files were
sent back to the Klagenfurt Regional Court on 16 February 1987 when
the Linz Regional Court held the trial against the applicant,
convicted him of assault and sentenced him to eight months'
imprisonment.

        On 5 March 1987 the Klagenfurt Regional Court, having regard
to the applicant's appeal against his conviction by the Linz Regional
Court, again sent the files to the Linz Regional Court and requested
it to take over the Klagenfurt case.  On 17 March 1987 the Linz
Regional Court declined this and sent the files back.
        On 14 April 1987 the Klagenfurt Regional Court fixed the trial
for 19 May 1987.  The Court was then informed by several post offices
that one witness summons could not be served and that the applicant
had changed address.  On 12 May 1987 the hearing was cancelled.

        On 14 May 1987 the Judge GF at the Klagenfurt Regional Court
informed the President of the Court that she was disqualified to take
part in the proceedings against the applicant.  It appears that GF
had acted as investigating judge.  The case was assigned to the
substitute judge on 10 June 1987.

        On 23 June 1987 the Klagenfurt Regional Court fixed the date
for the trial for 15 July 1987.  The hearing was adjourned on that
date, as two witnesses had not appeared, and in order to produce the
files concerning the case before the Linz Regional Court.  The Linz
Regional Court was requested twice to send the files.

        On 29 September 1987 the Linz Regional Court informed the
Klagenfurt Regional Court that the Linz case was terminated; the
Linz Court of Appeal had reduced the sentence and imposed a fine of
108,OOO AS on 11 June 1987.

        On 16 October 1987 the Klagenfurt Regional Court fixed the
trial for 4 November 1987.

        On 4 November 1987 the Klagenfurt Regional Court convicted the
applicant of negligent receiving (fahrlässiges Ansichbringen) and
sentenced him to 18,000 AS.  In fixing the sentence, the Court took
the sentence imposed by the Linz Court of Appeal and the applicant's
detention on remand into account.

        On 23 December 1987 the Klagenfurt Regional Court, upon the
applicant's request, corrected the record of the hearing of 4 November 1987.

        On 29 March 1988 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicant's
plea of nullity (Nichtigkeitsbeschwerde).  The applicant withdrew his
appeal against the sentence (Berufung).

        In April 1988 the Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office agreed
that the bail be paid back to the applicant.

COMPLAINTS

        The applicant complains under Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention
of the length of the criminal proceedings against him before the Klagenfurt
Regional Court.  He considers that the proceedings were delayed, in
particular due to the late indictment and the course of action taken by the
Klagenfurt Regional Court after the appeal proceedings in 1985.


PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

        The application was introduced on 18 May 1987 and registered on
15 June 1987.

        On 8 March 1988 the Commission decided that, in accordance with
Rule 42 para. 2 (b) of the Rules of Procedure, notice should be given to
the Austrian Government of the application and that the Government should
be invited to submit written observations on the admissibility and merits
of the case.

        After an extension of the time-limit, the Government's
observations were submitted on 13 June 1988.  The applicant's
observations in reply were submitted on 29 June 1988.


SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES

A.      The Government

        The Government maintain that the criminal proceedings against
the applicant were not unreasonably delayed.

        They submit that the length of the proceedings was due to the
complexity of the investigations and the conduct of the applicant.
The proceedings against the applicant formed part of complicated
investigations against numerous suspects who had stolen cars.
Moreover, in the beginning of the preliminary investigations, the
applicant made misleading statements concerning the charges against
him.  He committed another criminal offence pending the proceedings
which the Klagenfurt Regional Court had to take into account.  The
applicant also lodged several appeals.

        The Government contend that the Austrian courts had not been
completely inactive for a longer period.  Furthermore, referring to
the Foti judgment of the Eur.  Court H.R. of 10 December 1982 (Series A
no. 56, p. 21, para. 64), they consider that delays do not necessarily
entail a breach of Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention.  Even assuming
that there had been delays in the present case, such delays were
justified on the grounds that the proceedings had been particularly
complex and related to other proceedings.  They submit in particular
that the decisions of the Klagenfurt Regional Court to transfer the
proceedings to the Linz Regional Court were appropriate and in
accordance with the applicant's previous request.  The hearing before
the Klagenfurt Regional Court fixed for 19 May 1987 had to be
postponed because two summonses could not be served.  The next hearing
was already fixed for 15 July 1987.

        The Government request the Commission to declare the
application inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded within the
meaning of Article 27 para. 2 of the Convention.


B.      The applicant

        The applicant submits that the delays in the criminal
proceedings against him before the Klagenfurt Regional Court cannot be
justified by their relation to the proceedings before the Linz
Regional Court.  The two sets of proceedings were only joined from
15 October until 4 November 1986.  When the Linz Regional Court
transferred the case back, it could have kept a copy of the files.

        Furthermore the applicant alleges the following unreasonable
delays:  The Austrian authorities were inactive between March 1983 and
April 1984.  The judgment concerning his first conviction was only
served upon him in August 1985.  The delays pending the expert's
appeal proceedings could have been avoided by sending a copy of the
files to the Graz Court of Appeal.  The second decision of 5 March
1987 to transfer the case was wrong on the ground that at that
stage he had already been convicted by the Linz Regional Court and
appeal proceedings were pending.

        Moreover the Klagenfurt Regional Court was not required to
await the outcome of the Linz proceedings; on the contrary, had the
Klagenfurt proceedings been terminated within a reasonable time, the
Linz Regional Court could have taken any sentence imposed by the
Klagenfurt Regional Court into account.  The applicant also considers
that it was not necessary to cancel the hearing of 19 May 1987, as he
had been informed about the date by his defence counsel and he would
have agreed to use as evidence the written statements of the witness
concerned.

        The applicant denies that he contributed to the length of the
proceedings by giving misleading statements on the charges against
him.  In fact, he had already changed his initial statement in October
1982 and then maintained his defence.

        Finally he submits that the length of the proceedings before
the Klagenfurt Regional Court was not only as such detrimental to him,
but he also suffered financial losses in that his bail was only paid
back more than three years later.


THE LAW

        The applicant complains under Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of
the Convention that the criminal proceedings against him before the
Klagenfurt Regional Court were not terminated within a reasonable
time.

        Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the Convention provides, inter
alia, that in the determination of any criminal charges against him,
everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable
time.

        The respondent Government contend that the length of the
proceedings was partly caused by the applicant.  Any other delays were
due to the complexity of the case and its relation to other
proceedings.  They submit that the application should be declared
inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded.

        The Commission considers that the applicant's complaint
about the length of the criminal proceedings against him, which lasted
nearly six years, raises questions of fact and of law which are of
such a complex nature that their determination requires an examination
of the merits.  The application cannot, therefore, be declared
manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art.
27-2) of the Convention, but must be declared admissible, no other
ground for declaring it inadmissible having been established.


        For these reasons, the Commission


        DECLARES THE APPLICATION ADMISSIBLE
        without prejudging the merits of the case.




Secretary to the Commission         President of the Commission



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




APPENDIX

History of the domestic proceedings


13.5.82         Applicant questioned by the Linz Police Office.

2.7.82          Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office started
                investigations.

18.8.82         Applicant questioned by Linz Police Office.

1.9.82          Klagenfurt Federal Police Office laid information
                (Strafanzeige) against applicant concerning receiving
                a stolen car.

9.9.82          Request of Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office for
                preliminary investigations, warrant of arrest and
                search warrant.

14.9.82         Warrant of arrest (danger of collusion) and search
                warrant.

23.9.82         Arrest.

25.9.82         Detention on remand.

1.10.82         Applicant questioned by investigating judge.

7.10.82         First defence counsel appointed.

5.11.82         Request for extension of detention on remand (unusual
                scale and difficulties of the investigations).

22.11.82        Applicant questioned by investigating judge.

19.11.82        Supplemented warrant of arrest (necessity to prevent
                fleeing).

9.12.82         Extension of detention on remand up to three months.
                Appeal and offer of bail (50,000 AS).

30.12.82        Klagenfurt Regional Court refused release on bail.
                Appeal.

26.1.83         Files sent to the Graz Court of Appeal.

4.2.83          Graz Court of Appeal quashed decision of 30.12.82.

22.2.83         Bail fixed at 100,000 AS.

28.2.83         Bail paid by applicant's wife.  Release on bail.

24.3.83         Seperation of applicant's case.

22.3.84         Second counsel's request for transfer of case
                to Linz Regional Court.

4.4.84          Witness questioned by investigating police officer.

17.4.84         Applicant questioned by investigating judge.

30.4.84         Files sent to Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office.

9.5.84          Indictment.

11.5.84         Bill of indictment received by Klagenfurt Regional
                Court.

17.5.84         Bill of indictment submitted to counsel.

17.8.84         Request of Klagenfurt Public Prosecutor's Office
                not to transfer case.

21.8.84         Request for transfer submitted to Supreme Court.

20.9.84         Request for transfer dismissed.

21.11.84        Trial fixed for 14.12.84.

24.11.84        Applicant changed counsel.

27.11.84        Applicant's request to take further evidence and to
                postpone hearing.

11.12.84        Applicant submitted documents.

17.12.84        Trial fixed for 25.1.85.

25.1.85         Trial.  Postponed to take further evidence.

4.2.85          Technical expert appointed.

12.2.85         Expert opinion submitted.

18.2.85         Trial fixed for 29.3.85.

29.3.85         Trial.  Conviction for receiving stolen goods.

1.4.85          Applicant announced plea of nullity and appeal.

10.4.85         Applicant's request that bail be paid back.

23.5.85         Applicant's request that files be sent to Linz
                Regional Court.

30.5.85         Request of applicant's wife that bail be paid back.

7.8.85          Written judgment of 29.3.85 served upon applicant.

10.8.85         Requests of 10.4. and 30.5.85 dismissed.

14.8.85         Applicant filed plea of nullity and appeal.

23.9.85         Appeal of applicant's wife against decision of
                10.8.85.

7.10.85         Expert's fees fixed.  Files sent to Supreme Court.

24.10.85        Expert's appeal.

31.10.85        Graz Court of Appeal quashed decision of 10.8.85

19.12.85        Supreme Court quashed judgment of 29.3.85.

6.3.86          Graz Court of Appeal dismissed expert's appeal.

25.8.86         New trial fixed for 20.10.86.

22.9.86         Files sent to Linz Regional Court for inspection by
                defence counsel.

10.10.86        Request of the Public Prosecutor's Office to transfer
                case to Linz Regional Court where proceedings
                had been instituted in June 1986.

15.10.86        Trial cancelled.  Case transferred.

15.11.86        Case transferred back.

16.2.87         Files returned to Klagenfurt Regional Court.

5.3.87          Case transferred to Linz Regional Court a second time.

17.3.87         Case transferred back to the Klagenfurt Regional
                Court.

14.4.87         Trial fixed for 19.5.87.

24.4./5.5.87    Information that witness summons could not be served
                and that applicant changed address.

12.5.87         Trial cancelled.

14.5.87         Judge stated that she was disqualified.

10.6.87         Case assigned to substitute judge.

23.6.87         Trial fixed for 15.7.87.

15.7.87         Trial.  Adjourned.

16.7.87         Court requested Linz Regional Court's files.

17.7.87         Applicant's request to be paid bail back.

28.7.87         Renewed request for Linz files.

29.9.87         Information by Linz Regional Court about termination
                of proceedings.

16.10.87        Request of 17.7.87 dismissed.
                Trial fixed for 4.11.87.

28.10.87        Appeal against decision of 16.10.87 concerning bail.

4.11.87         Trial.  Conviction for negligent receiving of stolen
                goods.

13.11.87        Plea of nullity and appeal.

19.11.87        Applicant's request to correct the verbatim record.

21.12.87        File sent to the Supreme Court.

23.12.87        Klagenfurt Regional Court's decision to correct the
                record.

29.3.88         Applicant's plea of nullity dismissed.  Appeal
                withdrawn.

29.4.88         Bail paid back.