AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 26876/03
by Mirosław TRZNADEL
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 25 October 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Sir Nicolas Bratza, President,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr R. Maruste,
Mr K. Traja,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Mr J. Borrego Borrego, judges,
and Mrs F. Elens-Passos Deputy Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 6 August 2004,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Mirosław Trznadel, is a Polish national who was born in 1970 and lives in Wrocław.
A. The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 15 April 1999 the Głogów District Court detained the applicant on remand on suspicion of attempted manslaughter. On 2 February 2001 the Legnica Regional Court sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment. Both the Legnica Regional Prosecutor and the applicant lodged an appeal and on 29 April 2002 the Wrocław Court of Appeal quashed the judgment on the ground of procedural errors and remitted the case back to the Legnica Regional Court for re-examination.
On 21 January 2004 the Legnica Regional Court gave a judgment in the case. The Regional Prosecutor and the applicant appealed again. On 5 May 2004 the Wrocław Court of Appeal quashed the judgment and remitted the case back to the Legnica Regional Court for re-examination. The Court of Appeal found that the procedural errors had not been remedied and that the Regional Court had wrongly assessed the evidence. At the same time the Court of Appeal decided to further prolong the applicant’s detention. Both the Court of Appeal and the Regional Court based their decisions on the applicant’s detention on the ground of a reasonable suspicion, based on evidence gathered in the case, that he had committed the offences with which he had been charged, on the severity of the anticipated penalty and on the fear of collusion. Furthermore, as the applicant had gone into hiding during the investigation and had been sought by wanted notice, his detention was necessary to secure a proper conduct of the proceedings.
In February 2005 the applicant was still detained and the proceedings were pending before the Legnica Regional Court.
B. Relevant domestic law and practice
On 17 June 2004 Polish Parliament adopted a new law “on a complaint about a breach of a right to have one’s case heard within a reasonable time”. The Act entered into force on 17 September 2004.
Article 2 of the Act provides for a special action by which a party can seek a declaration that his or her right to have the case heard within a reasonable time has been breached. The court shall take into consideration the following criteria: the conduct of the court before which the case is pending; the character of the case and the complexity of legal and factual issues involved therein; what was at stake for the complainant, and the conduct of the parties. The length complaint must be lodged while the proceedings concerned are still pending.
Article 5 of the Act reads, in so far as relevant:
“1. A complaint about the unreasonable length of proceedings shall be lodged while the proceedings are pending. ...”
Pursuant to Article 12, if the court finds that the length complaint is well-founded, it shall give a ruling to this effect. If the complainant so requests, the court can also recommend that the court before which the case is pending takes certain procedural measures in the impugned proceedings. The court may also, award an appropriate amount of money to the complainant, in the amount not exceeding PLN 10,000.
Under Article 18, within six months after the entry into force of this Act, that is, from 17 September 2004, anyone who had lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights in due time complaining of a violation of the ‘reasonable-time’ requirement contained in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention was entitled to lodge a length complaint provided for by the Act, if the application to the Court had been lodged when the proceedings were still pending and if it had not been declared admissible by the European Court yet.
The applicant complains that the length of his detention was excessive.
He also complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the length of the proceedings in his case exceeded a “reasonable time” within the meaning of this provision.
1. The applicant complained that the length of the proceedings in his case was unreasonable. He relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which provides, in so far as relevant:
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”
Pursuant to Article 35 § 1 of the Convention:
“The Court may only deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, according to the generally recognised rules of international law...”
The Court observes that the present application was lodged with the Court when the relevant proceedings were pending before the domestic court.
On 1 March 2005 the Court gave decisions in two leading cases: Charzyński v. Poland no. 15212/03 (criminal proceedings) and Michalak v. Poland no. 24549/03 (civil proceedings), holding that persons complaining about the length of proceedings before the Polish courts were required by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention to lodge a complaint about the breach of the right to a trial within a reasonable time under the 2004 Act.
Under Article 18 of this Act it was open to persons who had brought a complaint about length of proceedings to the Court to lodge, within six months from 17 September 2004, a complaint provided for by Section 5 of that Act with a competent domestic court, provided that their application to the Strasbourg Court had been lodged in the course of the proceedings concerned and that the Court has not yet adopted a decision on the admissibility of their case.
In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that the applicant was required by Article 35 § 1 of the Convention to lodge a complaint about a breach of the right to a trial within a reasonable time with the domestic court under the 2004 Act. However, he did not avail himself of this remedy.
It follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.
2. The applicant complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention about the length of his pre-trial detention.
The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaint concerning the length of the applicant’s pre-trial detention;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
Françoise Elens-Passos Nicolas
Deputy Registrar President
TRZNADEL v. POLAND DECISION
TRZNADEL v. POLAND DECISION