AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                      Application No. 31365/96
                      by D.V.
                      against Bulgaria


      The European Commission of Human Rights (Second Chamber) sitting
in private on 16 April 1998, the following members being present:

           MM    J.-C. GEUS, President
                 M.A. NOWICKI
                 G. JÖRUNDSSON
                 A. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                 J.-C. SOYER
                 H. DANELIUS
           Mrs   G.H. THUNE
           MM    F. MARTINEZ
                 I. CABRAL BARRETO
                 J. MUCHA
                 D. SVÁBY
                 P. LORENZEN
                 E. BIELIUNAS
                 E.A. ALKEMA
                 A. ARABADJIEV

           Ms    M.-T. SCHOEPFER, Secretary to the Chamber

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

      Having regard to the application introduced on 10 January 1996
by D.V. against Bulgaria and registered on 6 May 1996 under file
No. 31365/96;

      Having regard to:

-     the reports provided for in Rule 47 of the Rules of Procedure of
      the Commission;

-     the observations submitted by the respondent Government on
      16 September 1997 and the observations in reply submitted by the
      applicant on 20 January 1998;

      Having deliberated;

      Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

      The applicant is a Bulgarian national born in 1930 and residing
in Sofia.  He is an economist, currently retired.

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

A.    Particular circumstances of the case

      In October and November 1993 a Mr Z. lodged with the District
Prosecutor's Office (Raionna prokuratura) in Sofia a complaint against
the applicant, stating that the latter was mentally ill and was
dangerous as he had been threatening him.  The applicant and Mr Z. had
been involved in a dispute about money which had been the object of
judicial proceedings between them.  The applicant apparently threatened
Mr Z., stating in a letter to him that, inter alia, the only possible
method to get the money back was "the axe", and that "a dog merits a
dog's death".  In their report of 9 November 1995, the medical experts
who examined the applicant (see below) concluded that he had a paranoic
psychosis, that he was aggressive and that he posed a danger to others.
In a later certificate, issued on 4 March 1996, another doctor who
examined the applicant found that he was mentally healthy.  The
applicant did not have a history of psychiatric problems.

      Following the receipt of Mr Z.'s complaint, in the end of 1993,
the District Prosecutor's Office opened an inquiry to establish whether
it was necessary to request, from the competent court, the applicant's
compulsory psychiatric treatment under Section 36 of the Public Health
Act (Zakon za narodnoto zdrave).

      In the course of the inquiry the applicant was invited, on
9 May and again on 5 September 1994, to appear for a psychiatric
examination, but he refused and allegedly responded with threatening
letters.

      On 27 January 1995 a prosecutor from the District Prosecutor's
Office ordered that the applicant should be forcefully brought to a
psychiatric hospital, and that he should be kept there for 20 days for
a psychiatric examination.  The order also stated that it was issued
pursuant to Section 36 of the Public Health Act, Section 22 of
Guidelines No. 295/85 of the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office (Ukazanie
na Glavna prokuratura), and Section 4 para. 2 of Instruction No. 1/81
of the Ministry of Public Health (Instruktzia na Ministerstvotot na
narodnoto zdrave).

      On 30 January 1995 the prosector's file was sent to a psychiatric
clinic in Sofia, with a copy to the local police.  On 3 May 1995 the
District Prosecutor's Office inquired before the police about their
failure to enforce the order of 27 January 1995.  On 16 August 1995 the
police returned the file to the District Prosecutor's Office with the
explanation that the applicant did not provide access to his home.  On
23 August 1995 the District Prosecutor's Office again transmitted the
file to the police and insisted on the enforcement of the order of
27 January 1995.

      On 31 August 1995, on the basis of the prosecutor's order of
27 January 1995, the applicant was taken from his home by the police
and was brought to a psychiatric hospital.

      The applicant underwent psychiatric examinations.  He was given
sedatives as he allegedly behaved violently.  The doctors also
interviewed his wife asking her questions about his past.

      On 4 September 1995 the applicant was diagnosed as suffering from
pneumonia.  A treatment with antibiotics was applied.

      On 5 September 1995 the applicant's wife submitted a complaint
to the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office (Gradska prokuratura).  She
stated inter alia that the manner in which her husband was treated was
inhuman, that she was not given a copy of the prosecutor's order, and
that she had not been allowed to visit her husband in the hospital
until 2 September 1995.  She asked the prosecutor to release the
applicant from the psychiatric clinic.

      On 15 September 1995 the applicant was transferred to a general
hospital in a critical condition because of the developing pneumonia.
In the following days his health improved.

      It appears that the prosecutor did not make any formal order
terminating the compulsory stay of the applicant at the psychiatric
clinic.

      On 11 October 1995 a regional prosecutor wrote to the applicant's
wife in relation to her complaint of 5 September 1995.  The letter
stated only that her husband had been transferred to a general hospital
and that, therefore, the district prosecutor would be given additional
time to deal with his inquiry.

      On 16 October 1995 the applicant was discharged from the general
hospital and went home as "no psychiatric treatment was necessary at
[that] moment", according to a psychiatrist who had examined him.

      The applicant submits that during the first several days after
his transfer to the general hospital he was still under the control of
a psychiatrist and was tied to his bed during the night.

      In November 1995 and later again the applicant complained to the
prosecution authorities stating inter alia that the district prosecutor
had acted unlawfully.  The complaints were examined by the Sofia City
Prosecutor's Office and then by the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office
which replied by letters of 1 February and 12 June 1996 respectively
that the district prosecutor had complied with the applicable
procedure.

      The applicant also sent numerous letters to the Minister of
Health, to the courts and to other institutions complaining that he had
been ill-treated and that the doctors and the prosecutors wanted to
kill him.  He received answers from the public health authorities
reciting the sequence of events and assuring him that his suspicions
were unfounded.

      In the continuing inquiry of the district prosecutor three
medical experts, who had examined the applicant, delivered a report
dated 9 November 1995 in which they recommended compulsory treatment
because, inter alia, he did not understand his condition, refused any
form of voluntary treatment, and was extremely aggressive.

      In January 1996 the district prosecutor submitted a request to
the Sofia District Court (Raionen sad) for an order committing the
applicant to compulsory psychiatric treatment under Section 36 para. 3
of the Public Health Act.  On 30 April 1996, after a hearing, the Court
dismissed the request.

      On an unspecified date in 1996 the applicant brought against the
State a civil action for damages.  He alleged inter alia that the
district prosecutor had acted beyond his competence and in breach of
the law.

      The applicant first wrote to the Commission on 10 January 1996
complaining about the allegedly unlawful detention and the treatment
he received.

B.    Relevant domestic law

a.    The Public Health Act and the Regulations to this Act (as in
force at the relevant time)

      According to Section 36 paras. 3 - 6 read in conjunction with
Sections 59 para. 2, 61 and 62 para. 1, a mentally ill person can be
committed to compulsory psychiatric treatment by a decision of a
district court.

      The court is seized by a district prosecutor.  The prosecutor can
submit a request to the court only after having undertaken an inquiry,
including a psychiatric examination.

      The Public Health Act, as in force at the relevant time, did not
contain a provision expressly providing that a prosecutor could order
a person to be forcefully brought to a hospital and his detention at
the hospital for purposes of a psychiatric examination.  Under Section
62 para. 2 a prosecutor could issue an order for a compulsory
examination, but only in respect of  alcoholics or drug addicts.

      Certain powers are given to the prosecutor in case the person's
state of health requires emergency measures.  In this situation the
chief medical doctor of a hospital can order a person's temporary
compulsory treatment.  The doctor has to inform immediately the
competent prosecutor, who then seizes the court (Section 36 para. 5 of
the Act and Section 70 of the Regulations to the Act).  According to
Section 70 para. 2 of the Regulations to the Act, if the prosecutor
refuses to seize the court the chief medical doctor shall release the
patient immediately.

      Also, the Public Health Act did not provide expressly for an
appeal to a court in cases of persons brought forcefully for an
examination in the framework of a district prosecutor's inquiry.
Section 105 para. 4, read in conjunction with the Administrative
Procedure Act (Zakon za administrativnoto proizvodstvo), provided for
a judicial appeal, but only against orders for compulsory treatment of
persons suffering from a contagious disease (Section 36 para. 2) and
against "[other orders] of the public health authorities", not of the
prosecution authorities.

b.    Instruction No. 1/81 of the Ministry of Public Health

      This instruction is a piece of delegated legislation.  It is
based on Section 2 of the supplementary provisions to the Public Health
Act, which stipulates that the Minister of Public Health shall issue
regulations and instructions for the implementation of the Public
Health Act.  The instruction is published in the State Gazette.

      Section 4 of the instruction, insofar as relevant, provides as
follows:
     "(1) Forensic psychiatric examinations shall be effected
... [with or without admission to a general or specialised
hospital].

     (2)   In the cases under the preceding paragraph the
examination shall be effected by the health care authorities
with the consent of the person concerned.  Where the person
concerned does not consent, the health care authorities shall
promptly request a written order and assistance from a
prosecutor or a court for the [person's] examination without
admission to a hospital, or for the [person's] temporary
committal to a stay in a psychiatric clinic for the purpose of
effecting a forensic psychiatric examination."

c.    Guidelines No. 295/85 of the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office

      These guidelines are an internal document for prosecutors in
their work in cases of compulsory medical treatment.  They have not
been published.

      Sections 16 et seq. concern the steps to be undertaken where
there has been information that a person may be liable to a compulsory
psychiatric or other treatment.  These provisions deal with compulsory
examinations and treatment of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics and
drug addicts, without distinguishing between these three categories (in
contrast with the provisions of the Public Health Act where separate
rules exist).

      According to the guidelines, following the receipt of a complaint
or other information the prosecutor has to conduct an inquiry and, if
there are doubtless indications that a psychiatric problem is involved,
to invite the person concerned for a psychiatric examination.  Section
21 para. 2 provides as follows:

     "In case the person concerned does not appear [for the
examination] within the time-limit indicated to him, the
prosecutor shall order him to be brought by force by the police
(Section 62 para. 2 of the Public Health Act)."

      Section 22 provides as follows:

      "Upon the proposal of the chief medical doctor of the
psychiatric clinic the prosecutor may, on the basis of the
provided medical documentation, authorise in writing the
temporary internment of mentally ill persons in a specialised
hospital, for a psychiatric examination (Section 70 of the
Regulations to the Public Health Act).  The prosecutor shall
promptly thereafter submit a request for a compulsory
treatment."

d.    Amendments to the Public Health Act of February 1997

      According to paras. 2 - 4 of the amended Section 61, the
prosecutor, in the framework of his inquiry, can order a compulsory
stay in a psychiatric hospital of up to 30 days for a medical
examination, if the person concerned has refused to undergo such an
examination voluntarily.  As an exception, the same prosecutor can
prolong the stay in hospital up to three months.

      The new paragraph 7 of Section 36 stipulates:

     "(7) The detained mentally ill person shall be provided
with an opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of the court
decision [sic].  The court shall decide promptly."

      It appears unclear from this provision whether a prosecutor's
order under the amended Section 61 para. 2 could be subject to a
judicial review.


COMPLAINTS

      The applicant complains that his forced stay in hospital was in
breach of Article 5 of the Convention.  Thus, there was no court
decision and he could not seize the court.  Also, the prosecutor acted
unlawfully and the applicable law created possibilities for abuse and
arbitrariness in respect of detention of allegedly mentally ill
persons.

      The applicant asserts also that the doctors in fact made medical
experiments with him, gave him dangerous drugs, tortured him and
wanted to kill him.  Furthermore, the doctors forced his wife to give
false information about him.  Also, the unlawful acts against him were
related to the fact that he had asked the President of Bulgaria to
recognise the Macedonian nation.  The applicant invokes Articles 2, 3,
6, 8, 9 and 10 of the Convention.


PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

      The application was introduced on 10 January 1996 and registered
on 6 May 1996.

      On 21 May 1997 the Commission decided to communicate the
application to the respondent Government.

      The Government's written observations were submitted on
16 September 1997, after an extension of the time-limit fixed for that
purpose.  The applicant replied on 20 January 1998, also after an
extension of the time-limit.


THE LAW

1.    The applicant complains under Article 5 (Art. 5) of the
Convention that his compulsory stay in a psychiatric hospital was
unlawful and that he could not challenge its lawfulness before a court.

      Article 5 (Art. 5) of the Convention insofar as relevant provides
as follows:

           "1.   Everyone has the right to liberty and security of
      person.  No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the
      following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by
      law:

      ...

           b.    the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-
      compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure
      the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;

      ...

           e.    the lawful detention  ...  of persons of unsound mind
      ...

      4.   Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or
      detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the
      lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court
      and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.

      ..."

a)    The Government argue that the applicant has not exhausted all
domestic remedies as required by Article 26 (Art. 26) of the
Convention.  The Government admit that Bulgarian law does not contain
a provision expressly providing for a possibility to appeal against an
order of a prosecutor committing a person to a compulsory psychiatric
examination in the framework of the prosecutor's preliminary
consideration whether to request that person's psychiatric internment.
However, the Government state that pursuant to the Constitution the
Convention is directly applicable in Bulgaria and that therefore the
applicant could have appealed to a court invoking the Convention.

      The Government further state that the six months' time-limit
under Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention ran from the applicant's
discharge from the psychiatric clinic on 15 September 1995 and ended
on 16 March 1996.  However, the application was registered by the
Commission on 6 May 1996, after the expiry of the six months' time-
limit.

      The Government finally assert that the application constitutes
an abuse of the right to petition because it is "obviously ungrounded"
and misleads the Commission in respect of the question of the
exhaustion of all domestic remedies.

      The applicant has not commented on the Government's preliminary
objections.  He asks the Commission to examine his case and to find
that his rights have been violated.

      The Commission recalls that under Article 26 (Art. 26) of the
Convention normal recourse should be had by an applicant to remedies
which are available and sufficient to afford redress in respect of the
breaches alleged.  The existence of the remedies in question must be
sufficiently certain not only in theory but in practice, failing which
they will lack the requisite accessibility and effectiveness.  In
respect of the burden of proof in these matters, it is incumbent on the
Government claiming non-exhaustion to satisfy the Convention organs
that the remedy was an effective one (cf.,inter alia, Eur. Court HR,
Akdivar v. Turkey judgment of 16 September 1996, Reports of Judgments
and Decisions 1996-IV, No. 15, pp. 1210, 1211, paras. 66 and 68).

      The Commission notes that the Government have not provided any
example of a person having successfully seized a court by relying on
the direct applicability of the Convention.  The Commission does not
consider, therefore, that the theoretical possibility to do so was an
accessible and effective remedy.  It follows that the applicant was not
required to embark on such an attempt in order to comply with the
requirements of Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention.  Furthermore,
the applicant complained to the higher prosecution authorities.

      As regards the six months' time-limit the Commission recalls the
Court's case-law confirming its practice according to which an
application is lodged on the date of the applicant's first letter,
provided the applicant has sufficiently indicated the purpose of the
application.  Registration - which is effected when the Secretary to
the Commission receives the full case file relating to the application
- has only one practical consequence: it determines the order in which
applications will be considered by the Commission (Eur. Court HR,
Papageorgiou v. Greece judgment of 22 October 1997, Reports-VI no. 54,
para. 32).

      In the present case the Commission need not decide whether the
six months' time-limit expired on 16 March 1996, as asserted by the
Government, or on a later date.  The Commission finds that in any event
the applicant has complied with the time-limit under Article 26
(Art. 26) of the Convention by sending his first letter, in which he
raised in substance his complaints, on 10 January 1996.

      The Commission further finds that the Government's objection that
there has been an abuse of the right to petition within the meaning of
Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention is unsubstantiated,
there having been no indication that the application was knowingly
based on untrue facts (cf.  Akdivar v. Turkey judgment, loc. cit.,
paras. 53 and 54; No. 28626/95, Dec. 3.7.97)

b)    As regards the lawfulness of the measure against the applicant
the Government submit that it was based on Section 62 para. 2 of the
Public Health Act and also on Section 4 para. 2 of Instruction No. 1/81
of the Ministry of Public Health.  The latter instruction is a piece
of delegated legislation and has been published.  The Government
further clarify that guidelines no. 295/85 of the Chief Public
Prosecutor's Office, referred to in the prosecutor's order, have no
formal legal force.  However, the fact that they were mentioned by the
prosecutor did not render his order unlawful.

      The Government further submit that the provisions concerning the
compulsory treatment of persons of unsound mind aim at protecting the
mentally ill person himself as well as other persons who may be
threatened by his behaviour.  It is the duty of the prosecution
authorities to discharge their obligations in this respect.  In the
present case the applicant was found by the medical experts to have
been mentally ill and dangerous.  As the applicant refused the
invitation to undergo an examination, it was by no means unlawful to
detain him for a short period of time, provisionally, for the purpose
of effecting the necessary medical checks and in order to establish
whether a request for a compulsory treatment should be submitted by the
prosecutor to the competent court.

      As regards the possibility to appeal to a court against the short
detention, the Government repeat their submission that although
Bulgarian law does not contain a provision expressly providing for a
judicial appeal in circumstances such as the applicant's it was
possible to seize a court by relying on the direct applicability of the
Convention.  Furthermore, the Government stress that the structure of
the prosecution system is similar to that of the court system.  In
fact, the applicant appealed to the higher prosecutor and his complaint
was duly examined, the prosecutor having found after careful analysis
that the applicant's committal to a compulsory stay in hospital for a
preliminary medical check was lawful.

      The applicant submits that he was unlawfully locked in a
psychiatric clinic pursuant to a prosecutor's order, which has never
been officially served on him.  Furthermore, the order referred to
secret instructions which date from the communist past.

      The Commission considers, in the light of the parties'
submissions, that this part of the application raises complex issues
of law and of fact under the Convention, the determination of which
should depend on an examination of the merits.  The Commission
concludes, therefore. that this part of the application is not
manifestly ill-founded, within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2
(Art. 27-2) of the Convention.  No other grounds for declaring it
inadmissible have been established.

2.    The applicant also complains, invoking Articles 2, 3, 6, 8, 9 and
10 (Art. 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10) of the Convention, that the doctors carried
out medical experiments upon him, gave him dangerous drugs, tortured
him and wanted to kill him.

      The Commission, having examined the applicant's above complaints
in the light of all the material in its possession, and in so far as
the matters complained of are within its competence, finds that they
do not disclose any appearance of a violation of the rights and
freedoms set out in the Convention.

      For these reasons, the Commission, unanimously,

      DECLARES ADMISSIBLE, without prejudging the merits, the
      applicant's complaint that his forced stay in a psychiatric
      hospital was unlawful and that it was not possible to appeal to
      a court in this respect;

      DECLARES INADMISSIBLE the remainder of the application.

   M.-T. SCHOEPFER                              J.-C. GEUS
      Secretary                                  President
to the Second Chamber                      of the Second Chamber