FOURTH SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 30365/04 
by Michal HALKO 
against Croatia

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 18 October 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President
 Mr G. Bonello
 Mrs N. Vajić
 Mr K. Traja
 Mr S. Pavlovschi
 Mr L. Garlicki, 
 Ms L. Mijović, judges
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 19 August 2004,

Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.

Having regard to the interim measure indicated to the respondent Government under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court on 16 September 2004,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

 

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Michal Halko, is a Czech national who was born in 1965 and lives in Prague. He is represented before the Court by Mr K. Škarica, a lawyer practising in Zagreb.

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

The applicant was arrested entering Croatia on 9 February 2004 on the basis of an international wanted notice issued by the Interpol of Georgia on 2 January 2003. On the same day, he was detained on remand by a decision of the Varaždin County Court (Županijski sud u Varaždinu). On 20 February 2004 the Supreme Court (Vrhovni sud Republike Hrvatske) dismissed the applicant’s appeal against that decision.

Meanwhile, on 14 February 2004 the Central State Attorney’s Office of Georgia requested the Croatian Ministry of Justice (Ministarstvo pravosuđa) to extradite the applicant to Georgia. The extradition was sought because criminal proceedings were pending against the applicant in Georgia on the suspicion that he had committed the criminal offence of abuse of power in commercial transactions.

On 30 March 2004 the Varaždin County Court gave a decision establishing that all the legal conditions for the applicant’s extradition were fulfilled.

The applicant appealed.

On 27 April 2004 the Supreme Court allowed the applicant’s appeal and remitted the case. It found that the first-instance court had failed to establish the existence of a reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed the offence he was charged with.

In the resumed proceedings, on 18 May 2004 the Varaždin County Court gave a new decision again establishing the fulfilment of all the legal conditions for the applicant’s extradition.

The applicant appealed alleging that the findings of fact were wrong. Furthermore, the applicant’s lawyer wrote in the appeal:

“...the defendant is a person who worked in the requesting State over a number of years and who was a close business associate of the former president, Mr Shevardnadze, very well acquainted with all the flaws and weaknesses of the judicial system, the treatment during criminal proceedings, the prejudging of guilt and the numerous abuses which resulted from the problems generated over the years in that part of the State administration...”

On 15 June 2004 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicant’s appeal.

On 16 September 2004 the Court (First Section), applying Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, indicated to the Government that it was desirable in the interest of the parties and the proper conduct of the case not to extradite the applicant pending the Court’s decision. The measure has been complied with and, consequently, the Minister of Justice never adopted a final decision on the applicant’s extradition.

On 6 July 2005 the Varaždin County Court received a letter stating that the Central State Attorney’s Office of Georgia had terminated the criminal proceedings against the applicant in line with the Georgian Amnesty Law enacted in December 2004.

On the same day, the County Court released the applicant from detention.

The applicant subsequently returned to the Czech Republic.

COMPLAINTS

The applicant complains under Article 3 of the Convention that his extradition to Georgia would result in his ill-treatment by the Georgian authorities, due to his affiliation with the ex-President of that country and with the former regime.

The applicant also complains that his extradition to Georgia would infringe his rights guaranteed by Articles 6 §§ 1 and 2 of the Convention in that he would not be afforded a fair trial and that the presumption of innocence would not be respected.

Finally, the applicant complains, without further substantiation, that his extradition to Georgia would infringe his rights guaranteed under Article 4 and 14 of the Convention.

THE LAW

The Court notes that the applicant was released from detention on 6 July 2005 and that he left Croatia for the Czech Republic. Moreover, the criminal proceedings in Georgia, which gave rise to his complaints made to the Court, were terminated.

The Government claim that the applicant has lost his victim status. The applicant did not reply to the Registry’s letter asking him whether he wished to pursue his application.

Article 37 § 1 of the Convention, in so far as relevant, provides:

“The Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that

(a)  the applicant does not intend to pursue his application; or

(b)  the matter has been resolved; ....”

In the circumstances, the Court notes that the applicant is no longer under the threat of being extradited to Georgia. The Court is therefore satisfied that the matter has been resolved. In any event, the applicant’s failure to respond to further communication by the Court is sufficient for it to conclude that he does not wish to pursue his application.

Moreover, respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the protocols thereto does not require it to continue the examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention).

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and to strike the application out of its list of cases.

Michael O’Boyle Nicolas Bratza 
 Registrar President

HALKO v. CROATIA DECISION


HALKO v. CROATIA DECISION