AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

                       Application No. 33977/96
                       by Petar ILIJKOV
                       against Bulgaria

     The European Commission of Human Rights sitting in private on
20 October 1997, the following members being present:

           Mr    S. TRECHSEL, President
           Mrs   G.H. THUNE
           Mrs   J. LIDDY
           MM    E. BUSUTTIL
                 G. JÖRUNDSSON
                 A.S. GÖZÜBÜYÜK
                 A. WEITZEL
                 J.-C. SOYER
                 H. DANELIUS
                 F. MARTINEZ
                 C.L. ROZAKIS
                 L. LOUCAIDES
                 J.-C. GEUS
                 M.P. PELLONPÄÄ
                 B. MARXER
                 M.A. NOWICKI
                 I. CABRAL BARRETO
                 B. CONFORTI
                 N. BRATZA
                 J. MUCHA
                 D. SVÁBY
                 G. RESS
                 A. PERENIC
                 C. BÎRSAN
                 K. HERNDL
                 E. BIELIUNAS
                 E.A. ALKEMA
                 M. VILA AMIGÓ
           Mrs   M. HION
           MM    R. NICOLINI
                 A. ARABADJIEV


           Mr    M. de SALVIA, 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 25 October 1996
by Petar ILIJKOV against Bulgaria and registered on 26 November 1996
under file No. 33977/96;

     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 14
     February 1997 and the observations in reply submitted by the
     applicant on 8 May 1997;


     Having deliberated;

     Decides as follows:

THE FACTS

     The applicant is a Bulgarian national born in 1955 and residing
in Plovdiv.  He is currently in prison.  Before the Commission he is
represented by Mr Mihail Ekimdjiev, a lawyer practising in Plovdiv.

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


A.   Particular circumstances of the case

     The criminal proceedings

     On 4 October 1993 the applicant was arrested on charges under
Section 212 paras. 1,2 and 4 of the Penal Code (Nakazatelen kodeks)
concerning forgery of documents and fraud effected between 9 April and
10 September 1993.  The applicant, with the assistance of a customs
officer and two other accomplices, had made false customs declarations
certifying fictitious exports of loads of cigarettes, which in reality
had been sold in the country.  On the basis of the false declarations
the applicant had obtained the reimbursement of 7,811,400 leva in
excise tax and had attempted to obtain the reimbursement of another
7,419,000 leva, the total amount at stake having been 15,230,400 leva
(about 3,000,000 FF at the time).

     The preliminary investigation was concluded on 1 April 1994 when
the indictment drawn up by the prosecutor was submitted to the Plovdiv
Regional Court (Okrazhen sad).

     The Plovdiv Regional Court held several hearings.  There is a
dispute between the parties as to the reasons for certain adjournments.

     It appears undisputed, however, that some of them were related
to the examination of the appeals, submitted to the Supreme Court
(Varhoven sad) by the applicant and by his accomplices, against the
refusals of the Plovdiv Regional Court to order their release on bail
(see below, The applicant's detention on remand).  In practice,
whenever such an appeal was submitted, the Plovdiv Regional Court
transmitted the file of the criminal case together with the appeal to
Sofia, to the Supreme Court.  It was thus impossible for the Plovdiv
Regional Court to deal with the case until the return of the file from
the Supreme Court.

     It appears that the case-file was thus transmitted: on or about
20 May 1994 and returned shortly after 30 June 1994; on or about
7 December 1994 and returned shortly after 21 February 1995; on or
about 28 September 1995 and returned shortly after 6 November 1995; on
or about 16 April 1996 and returned shortly after 28 May 1996;  on
19 November 1996 and returned shortly after 4 December 1996.  When
transmitting the case-file on 19 November 1996 the Regional Court
accompanied it with a note asking for a speedy examination in view of
the fact that a hearing had been scheduled for 19 December 1996.

     As from 19 February 1996 the Plovdiv Regional Court had to
recommence the examination of the case because one juror (sadeben
zasedatel) had fallen ill and had to be replaced.  The new chamber of
the court held a hearing on 26 and 27 March 1996.

     Another hearing was scheduled for 7 and 8 May 1996, but at that
time the case-file was in Sofia at the Supreme Court.  As a result the
hearing was adjourned for 16 and 17 September 1996, the earliest dates
available, in view of the courts' holidays.  However, since a juror had
broken his leg and was unable to attend, the hearing was adjourned
again for 29 and 30 October 1996.

     On 29 October 1996 the parties to the criminal case, including
the applicant who at that time was on a hunger strike (see below, The
applicant's hunger strike), appeared before the Plovdiv Regional Court.
The Court heard the medical experts who had been appointed on the
previous day and had examined the applicant briefly.  The experts
stated that the applicant needed to undergo a full examination in a
hospital.  On 30 October 1996 the Court ordered the applicant's
temporary placement in a hospital and adjourned the hearing, the
reasons therefor being disputed between the parties.  The applicant
submits that the reason for the adjournment was the absence of several
witnesses and the Court's order for medical checks in a hospital,
whereas the Government maintain that the only reason was the
applicant's state of health, the medical experts having considered that
he was not in a condition to participate in the hearing.

     The hearing ultimately took place on 29, 30 and 31 January 1997.
The Plovdiv Regional Court heard witnesses and the submissions of the
parties to the criminal case and examined other evidence.  The Court
could not hear four of the witnesses as they did not appear.  The
applicant apparently unsuccessfully requested the adjournment of the
hearing in order to question these witnesses, whose attendance had
previously been requested by both parties.

     On 31 January 1997 the Court convicted the applicant and
sentenced him to thirteen years' imprisonment.  His accomplices were
also convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment between eleven
and twelve years.  The Court reserved the reasoning of its judgment.
As of 1 May 1997 the reasoning was not yet prepared.

     It appears that when adjourning the hearings the Plovdiv Regional
Court often did not fix a date for the next hearing, but announced the
date later, through summons sent to the parties.  On several occasions
the summons was received by the applicant between ten days and two
weeks prior to the date of the hearing.

     Throughout the proceedings the applicant was represented by a
lawyer and, at some stages, by two or three lawyers simultaneously.

     On an unspecified date in 1997 the applicant appealed to the
Supreme Court of Cassation (Varhoven kasatzionen sad) against his
conviction and sentence.  The case is currently pending before the
Supreme Court of Cassation.


     The applicant's detention on remand

     On 4 October 1993, the day of his arrest, the applicant was
brought before an investigator who questioned him, in the presence of
his lawyer, and decided to detain him on remand.  This decision was
approved by a prosecutor on an unspecified date.

     On 14 October 1993, when the case was at the preliminary
investigation stage, the applicant appealed to the Plovdiv Regional
Court against his detention on remand.  The Court examined the case in
camera, on the basis of the investigator's file and the applicant's
petition.  By a decision of 3 December 1993 the Court dismissed the
applicant's appeal.

     One of the applicant's accomplices, a Mr H., was released on bail
on 6 November 1993, but was again arrested on 15 February 1994.  When
at large Mr H. attempted to induce Mr. G., a witness, to give false
evidence, a crime under Section 293 of the Penal Code, of which Mr H.
was later convicted.

     Following the conclusion of the preliminary investigation in the
applicant's case, and after its submission on 1 April 1994 to the
Plovdiv Regional Court for trial, the applicant lodged seven requests
for release on bail.  All requests were submitted to, and examined by,
the Plovdiv Regional Court before which the case was pending.

     The requests for release were submitted and dismissed as follows:
the first request, of 3 October 1994, was dismissed by the Regional
Court on 6 October 1994; another request was dismissed by the Regional
Court on 30 November 1994 and, on appeal, the Regional Court's refusal
to release the applicant was confirmed by the Supreme Court on
21 February 1995; a request of 11 July 1995 was dismissed by the
Regional Court on 21 September 1995 and, on appeal, the Regional
Court's refusal to release the applicant was confirmed by the Supreme
Court on 6 November 1995; a request whereby the applicant asked the
Regional Court to annul or alter its refusal of 30 November 1994 was
rejected on 4 December 1995; a request for release on bail of
15 January 1996 was refused by the Regional Court on 20 February 1996;
a request made at the oral hearing on 27 March 1996 was refused by the
Regional Court on the same day, the refusal was confirmed by the same
court by a decision of 9 April 1996 and, on appeal, by the Supreme
Court on 28 May 1996; a request of 15 October 1996 was refused by the
Regional Court on 29 October 1996 and, on appeal, the refusal to
release the applicant on bail was confirmed by the Supreme Court on
4 December 1996.

     In its decision of 21 February 1995 confirming the refusal of the
Regional Court to release the applicant on bail, the Supreme Court
stated that under Section 152 paras. 1 and 2 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure every person accused of a crime punishable by ten or more
years imprisonment had to be detained on remand, the only exception
being a case where it is clear, beyond doubt, that there is no danger
of absconding or re-offending.  In the Supreme Court's view such would
only be cases where, for example, the accused person is seriously ill,
or of an old age or in other condition which excludes the danger of
absconding or re-offending.  Since the applicant was charged with a
crime punishable by more than ten years imprisonment, and as no special
circumstances excluding the danger of absconding or repetition had been
established, there existed no grounds to order the applicant's release
on bail.  The Court referred to its case-law on the matter (see below,
Relevant domestic law and practice).

     The Supreme Court further refused to deal with the applicant's
contention that the evidence against him was weak.  The Court found
that it was not competent to do so in the framework of proceedings
concerning detention on remand.  Its only task was to examine whether
the conditions for detention on remand under Section 152 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure had been met.

     In its decision of 4 December 1995 refusing to annul or alter its
decision of 30 November 1994 as regards the applicant's detention on
remand, the Plovdiv Regional Court stated, in response to the
applicant's assertion that the evidence in the case was weak, that
discussing the evidence in the case and making conclusions related to
the applicant's guilt would be a serious breach of procedure.  The
Court reiterated that the only factors to be taken into account when
deciding on the detention on remand were the gravity of the charges and
the requirements of Section 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

     In its decision of 4 December 1996 confirming the refusal of the
Plovdiv Regional Court of 29 October 1996 to release the applicant on
bail, the Supreme Court stated inter alia that the danger of
absconding, of re-offending and of obstructing the proceedings was
presumed on the basis of the gravity of the crime with which the
applicant had been charged.  The Court further stated that this
conclusion was not affected in any way by the applicant's health
problems, which could be dealt with at the penitentiary, or by the
length of the detention, despite its inevitable negative consequences.
The Court further found that the complaints of the applicant under the
Convention were unfounded.  In particular, the applicant wrongly
considered that certain provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure
were contrary to the Convention.


     The applicant's hunger strike

     On 23 September 1996 the applicant commenced a hunger strike to
protest against his continuing detention on remand.  On 24 September
1996, upon the order of the prison administration, the applicant was
examined by a doctor.  The doctor recommended regular medical
examinations every second day.  On 4 October 1996, on the eleventh day
of the hunger strike, the applicant was examined by a commission of
three doctors.  They found that the hunger strike had had some effect
on the applicant's state of health, but that it was not significant.
Therefore, artificial feeding was not yet necessary.  The doctors also
explained to the applicant that irreversible changes may occur after
the fifteenth day.

     On 7 October 1996 in the morning the applicant refused to drink
water or accept any other liquid.  At about 2.30 p.m. the medical
doctor at the prison administered an intravenous infusion with the
applicant's consent.

     On 8 October 1996 the applicant refused to accept another
intravenous infusion and did not drink or eat.  On the same day the
director of the prison consulted a prosecutor over the telephone and
authorised the medical commission of three doctors to administer
artificial feeding if necessary.  The order was based on Section 86 of
the Law on the Execution of Punishments (Zakon za izpalnenie na
nakazaniata).

     On 10 October 1996 the medical commission examined the applicant
for the eighth time since the beginning of his strike.  The commission
found that there had been dystrophic changes in the applicant's liver
and that his cardiac rhythm was accelerated.  The commission also found
that the applicant was capable of understanding the consequences of his
acts and that he firmly wanted to continue the strike.  With a view to
preserving the applicant's health the medical commission administered
forced feeding with sweetened yogurt and amino-acids, by using a
medical stomach-tube. The commission also ordered further forced
feeding with concentrated fluid substance prepared at the Medical
Academy in Plovdiv.

     The medical commission drew up a report on 28 October 1996
describing the applicant's state of health on the twenty-seventh day
of his strike.  Dystrophic changes had occurred in several internal
organs.  The continuation of the hunger strike, despite the forced
feeding, was found to be dangerous for the applicant's life.

     It appears that the applicant was brought to a hospital on 2
November 1996 and was returned to the prison a day or two later.

     On 6 November 1996 the applicant was brought to a hospital for
comprehensive examinations, pursuant to the order of the Plovdiv
Regional Court of 30 October 1996.  The conclusion after the
examination was that the applicant's life was not in danger, partly
owing to the forced feeding.  Further to the previously diagnosed
problems, the applicant had developed a gastritis, which could have
been caused by the inadequate alimentary regime.  A treatment with
medicaments was prescribed in this respect.  While in hospital the
applicant's forced feeding  through a medical stomach-tube continued.

     On 8 November 1996 the applicant returned to the prison, where
he continued his hunger strike and was regularly examined and fed
forcefully by the doctor at the prison.  On 18 November 1996 the
applicant made a handwritten declaration stating that he was aware of
the fatal consequences of his acts, but insisted not to be fed
forcefully.  The forced feeding continued, however, because the prison
doctor considered that its suspension would endanger the applicant's
life.

     On 19 November 1996 a commission of three medical doctors drew
up another report on the applicant's condition, after having examined
him at the Medical Academy in Plovdiv.  The report stated inter alia
that the applicant was fit to participate in the hearing of his case
and that more active treatment should be applied against the gastritis,
there having been a danger of acute ulcer.

     On 26 November 1996, upon the applicant's request, he was issued
with a medical certificate drawn up by the doctor at the prison.  The
certificate stated inter alia that the applicant had lost twenty
kilograms.

     On 26 November 1996 the applicant decided to start accepting
liquids temporarily, until 19 December 1996, in order to preserve his
health.  He made a handwritten declaration in this respect.

     On 28 November 1996 the applicant decided to suspend his hunger
strike.

     According to a medical certificate of 20 January 1997, the
applicant's health is satisfactory.


B.   Relevant domestic law and practice

     Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Section 152 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, as in force at the relevant time and until 4 June 1995,
provided as follows:
<Translation>

     "(1)  Detention on remand shall be imposed [in cases where the
     charges concern] crimes punishable by ten or more years'
     imprisonment or capital punishment.

     (2)   In the cases under the preceding paragraph [detention on
remand] shall not be imposed if there is no danger of the accused
evading justice or committing another crime."

<Bulgarian>

"(1)  Miarka za neotklonenie zadarzhane pod strazha se vzema za
prestaplenie, za koeto e predvideno nakazanie lishavane ot
svoboda deset ili poveche godini ili smurt.

(2) V sluchaite po predhodnata alinea miarkata za neotklonenie
ne se vzema ako niama opasnost obviniaemiat da se ukrie ili da
izvarshi drugo prestasplenie."

     These provisions, as in force after 4 June 1995 and until August
1997, provided as follows:

<Translation>

"(1)  Detention on remand shall be imposed [in case where the
charges concern] a serious wilful crime.

(2)   In the cases under paragraph 1 [detention on remand] may
not be imposed if there is no danger of the accused evading
justice, obstructing the investigation, or committing another
crime."

<Bulgarian>

"(1) Miarka za neotklonenie "zadarzhane pod strazha" se vzema za
tezhko umishleno prestaplenie.

(2)  V sluchaite po al. 1 miarkata za neotklonenie mozhe da ne
se vzeme, ako niama opasnost obviniaemiat da se ukrie, da osueti
razkrivaneto na obektivnata istina ili da izvarshi drugo
prestaplenie."

     According to Section 93 para. 7 of the Penal Code "serious" is
a crime punishable by more than five years' imprisonment.

     The Supreme Court has stated that it is not open to the courts,
when examining an appeal against detention on remand, to inquire
whether there exists sufficient evidence supporting the charges against
the detainee.  The courts have to examine only the lawfulness of the
detention order, i.e. to establish whether there exists a "real danger"
of absconding or of repetition (Decision of 23 May 1995) (opred. No. 24
** n.d. 268/95, I n.o., Sb. 1995, str. 149).

     Paragraph 4 of Section 152 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as
in force at the relevant time and until 4 June 1995, provided as
follows:
<Translation>

"(4)  The detained person shall be provided immediately with a
possibility to file an appeal before the court against the
[imposition of detention].  Within a time-limit of three days
from the filing of the appeal the court shall pronounce a
decision which is final."

<Bulgarian>

"(4) Na zadarzhania se osiguriava nezabavno vazmozhnost da
obzhalva pred sada miarkata za neotklonenie. Sadat se proiznasia
v tridneven srok ot podavaneto na zhalbata s opredelenie, koeto
e okonchatelno."

     At the trial stage of the criminal proceedings, according to
Section 304 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial court examines
the detainee's requests for release.  According to Section 344 the
decision of the trial court is subject to appeal to the higher court.
The law does not require the trial court or the higher court to decide
within a particular time-limit.

     According to Section 347 and Section 348 para. 2 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure when an appeal has been lodged against a court order
(such as an appeal against detention on remand) the case-file is
transmitted by the lower court to the higher court "when necessary",
or can be requested by the latter.

     Section 86 of the Law on the Execution of Punishments reads as
follows:

<Translation>

"In case a detained person refuses to take food and this
endangers his life or his health, the necessary medical measures
shall be taken in accordance with the doctor's prescription."

<Bulgarian>

"Kogato lisheniat ot svoboda otkazva da priema hrana i tova
sazdava opasnost za zhivota ili zdraveto mu, po predpisanie na
lekaria se vzemat neobhodimite meditzinski merki."


COMPLAINTS

1.   The applicant complains that he was subjected to torture and
inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the
Convention. He claims that the forced feeding during his hunger strike
was administered by unqualified personnel through a dirty rubber hose,
in a manner which caused violent pain and a sense of helplessness and
represented a serious risk for his life. In particular, according to
independent medical advice, obtained from the London Medical Foundation
for the Care of Victims of Torture, forced feeding administered without
qualified medical supervision on persons on hunger strike may result
in cardiac arrest and death.

     The applicant also claims that his exceptionally long detention
on remand amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment as it was causing
mental demoralisation, breaking of his volitional and physical
stability and a sense of humiliation and helplessness.

2.   The applicant complains that his detention on remand was unlawful
and contrary to Article 5 para. 1 of the Convention.  He submits that
even if the arrest may have been lawful, the continuation of his
detention after a certain lapse of time was not justified, there having
been no danger of absconding or committing a crime.

     The applicant also complains under Article 5 para. 3 of the
Convention that his detention on remand was unreasonably long and that
following his arrest in October 1993 he was not brought before a judge
or other officer exercising judicial power, the investigator not being
sufficiently independent and impartial under Bulgarian law.  As regards
the length of the detention the applicant submits that the case was not
legally complex and that a reasonable bail would have served the
purpose of guaranteeing his appearance in court.  Also, after the
collection of most of the evidence in the case, there could not
possibly exist a danger of him concealing evidence or otherwise
hindering the administration of justice.

     The applicant also raises a complaint under Article 5 para. 4 of
the Convention in respect of the examination of the appeals against his
detention on remand.  He maintains that his appeals were not examined
"speedily" as required by Article 5 para. 4, that the courts decided
in camera and did not provide the guarantees of adversarial
proceedings. Also, his appeals were rejected arbitrarily, without
examining any evidence.  Instead, the Supreme Court in its decision of
4 December 1996 refusing release on bail stated that the  danger of
absconding, of re-offending or of obstruction of justice was presumed
as the applicant had been charged with a serious crime.  Referring to
the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court according to which the courts
are competent to examine only the "formal lawfulness" of the detention,
the applicant also argues that the judicial control on the lawfulness
of his detention was deprived of its essence, the power of the courts
having been very limited.

3.   The applicant also complains under Article 6 paras. 1, 2 and 3
of the Convention that the judges examining his case were partial, that
the proceedings were unfair and unreasonably lengthy.  The applicant
states in particular that the proceedings were unduly delayed; that by
having to decide on seven applications for release on bail, the chamber
of the Plovdiv Regional Court which examined his case inevitably became
partial; that the reasons given for some of the refusals of bail
disclosed prejudged opinion and violated the presumption of innocence;
that the summons for some of the hearings were received by the
applicant in prison ten days prior to the date of the hearing which,
in view of the time necessary to organise a meeting with his lawyer,
left  the applicant without an adequate possibility to prepare for the
hearing; and that he has been on several occasions denied access to his
lawyers. In respect of the latter complaint the applicant has also
invoked Article 25 para. 1 of the Convention, claiming that there has
been a hindrance of the right to individual petition.


PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

     The application was introduced on 25 October 1996 and registered
on 26 November 1996.

     On 26 November 1996 the Commission decided to communicate the
application to the respondent Government.  The Commission also decided,
pursuant to Rule 36 of its Rules of Procedure, to indicate to the
Government of Bulgaria that it was desirable in the interests of the
Parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before the Commission
that all necessary steps be taken by the Government to preserve the
applicant's health.  The Commission also decided, pursuant to Rule 36
of its Rules of Procedure, to invite the applicant to stop his hunger
strike.

     On 29 November 1996 the applicant informed the Commission that
he had decided to stop his hunger strike.  On 19 December 1996, in
response to the Commission's request of 6 December 1996, the Government
submitted information about the measures undertaken to preserve the
applicant's health.  On 24 January 1997, noting that the imminent
danger for the applicant's health did not exist any longer, the
Commission decided not to maintain the interim measures under Rule 36
of its Rules of Procedure.

     The applicant elaborated his complaints in the application form
which was submitted on 11 December 1996 and transmitted to the
Government on 13 December 1996.

     The Government's written observations were submitted on
14 February 1997.  The applicant replied on 8 May 1997, after an
extension of the time-limit fixed for that purpose.


THE LAW

1.   The applicant complains that the length of his detention on
remand and the manner in which he was treated during his hunger strike
amounted to treatment contrary to Article 3 (Art. 3) of the Convention.

     Article 3 (Art. 3) of the Convention provides as follows.

     "No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading
     treatment or punishment."

     The Government submit that the applicant's suffering was the
result solely of his own decision to commence a hunger strike.  He was
repeatedly informed of the grave consequences which might follow if he
persistently refused to accept food and liquids.  Also, the applicant
never claimed that the conditions in the prison were unbearable and
inhuman.  In fact, he has not claimed before the Commission that he had
been subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment by the prison
administration.  He has stated that the strike was in protest to the
refusal of the courts to release him on bail.

     The Government, referring to the Tyrer case (Eur. Court HR,
judgment of 25 April 1978, Series A no. 26), also submit that the
applicant's suffering has not attained such a level or intensity as
would be indicative of an inhuman or degrading treatment.

     The Government further reject the applicant's allegation that his
medical treatment and forced feeding during the hunger strike was
inhuman and degrading.  It is not true that the applicant was treated
by unqualified personnel.  While due to the economic crisis in the
country all medical institutions experience difficulties, there exists
strict professional control, the medical staff is well qualified and
maintains the quality of medical care.   The applicant's health was
closely monitored by medical doctors, and he was twice taken to a
hospital for full examinations. He was forcefully fed only when this
became necessary, by medical personnel, with the use of appropriate
medical equipment and substances.  Finally, the forced feeding was
administered according to a procedure prescribed by law.

     The applicant replies that the torture and inhuman and degrading
treatment complained of was the violent and unprofessional way in which
he was forcefully fed.  In particular, liquid food was poured into his
stomach by unqualified personnel through a dirty rubber hose,
a "medieval" treatment endangering his life.

     The Commission recalls that ill-treatment must attain a minimum
level of severity if it is to fall under Article 3 (Art. 3).  The
assessment of this minimum is, in the nature of things, relative: it
depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the duration of
the treatment, its physical or mental effects and, in some case, the
sex, age and state of health of the victim (Eur. Court HR, Ireland v.
the United Kingdom judgment of 18 January 1978, Series A no. 25, p. 65
para. 162).

     According to the Court's case-law a measure which is a
therapeutic necessity from the point of view of  established principles
of medicine, cannot in principle be regarded as inhuman and degrading.
The Convention organs must nevertheless satisfy themselves that the
medical necessity has been convincingly shown to exist (Eur. Court HR,
Herczegfalvy v. Austria judgment of 24 September 1992, Series A no.
244, p. 26 para. 83).

     Moreover, the Commission notes that the applicant does not claim
that he should have been left without any food or medicaments
regardless of the possible lethal consequences.  Consequently, the
applicant does not claim that the forced feeding per se, as an act of
disrespect for his will to continue the hunger strike, amounted to
torture and inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3
(Art. 3) of the Convention.

     The Commission, therefore, is called upon to examine whether the
manner in which the applicant was fed forcefully, and treated in
general during the hunger strike, amounted to torture or inhuman and
degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3 (Art. 3) of the
Convention.

     The Commission notes that the applicant's statement that he was
fed by unqualified personnel through a dirty rubber hose is not
supported by the medical reports.  The applicant has not claimed that
these reports were false.  Nor has he challenged the medical doctors'
finding that forced feeding was necessary.  Indeed it aimed at
preserving his life, and was apparently decisive for the fact that the
applicant's health did not deteriorate.

     Also, it appears established that the applicant was under
constant medical supervision, that he was examined practically every
two or three days by one or more medical doctors, that he was twice
brought to hospital for extensive examinations and that the forced
feeding and the treatment were ordered and administered by medical
doctors.  Moreover, it does not appear that the feeding and medical
treatment resulted in any aggravation of the applicant's health.

     In these circumstances the Commission does not consider that the
applicant was subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment
during the period of his hunger strike.

     As regards the applicant's complaint that the length of his
detention caused suffering which amounted to inhuman and degrading
treatment, the Commission notes that the applicant has not raised any
complaint in respect of the conditions of detention.  While his
prolonged stay in detention pending trial undoubtedly caused distress,
the Commission does not consider that in the particular case it
amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3
(Art. 3) of the Convention.  Also, the issues related to the length of
the detention on remand as such fall to be examined under Article 5
para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the Convention.

     It follows that the applicant's complaints under Article 3
(Art. 3) of the Convention are manifestly ill-founded and have to be
rejected under Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

2.   The applicant complains that his detention on remand was unlawful
and contrary to Article 5 para. 1 (Art. 5-1) of the Convention.  He
also complains under Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the Convention
that his detention on remand was unreasonably lengthy and that
following his arrest in October 1993 he was not brought before a judge
or other officer exercising judicial power; and under Article 5 para.
4 (Art. 5-4) of the manner in which the courts examined his appeals
against detention.

     Article 5 (Art. 5) of the Convention, insofar as relevant, reads
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:

           a.    the lawful detention of a person after conviction by
     a competent court;

     ...

           c.    the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected
     for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal
     authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence
     or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his
     committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;

     ...

     3.    Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the
     provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be brought
     promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to
     exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a
     reasonable time or to release pending trial.  Release may be
     conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.

     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)   In respect of the alleged unlawfulness of the applicant's
detention the Government have stated that he was arrested and accused
on serious charges, his detention on remand having been ordered and
confirmed in accordance with the law.

     The applicant replies that the warrant for his arrest did not
contain any reasoning as to the existence of a reasonable suspicion
against him, nor as regards the alleged danger of absconding,
obstruction of justice, or repetition.  Moreover, these issues were not
examined adequately even in the decisions of the courts confirming the
applicant's detention on remand, the only argument having been that the
detention was necessary in view of the grave accusations.  Also,
following his arrest he was not brought before a judge or other officer
exercising judicial power, which made the detention unlawful.

     The Commission does not find any indication that the applicant's
detention was unlawful under domestic law.  Furthermore, as regards the
alleged lack of a reasonable suspicion, it appears undisputed that the
accusations were based on documents such as false customs declarations
signed by the applicant.  Insofar as the applicant challenges the
reasons given by the courts to justify the continuation of his
detention, and insofar as he submits that he was brought before an
officer who was not independent and impartial, these are issues which
fall to be examined under Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the
Convention.

     The Commission finds, therefore, that the applicant's complaint
under Article 5 para. 1 (Art. 5-1) of the Convention is manifestly ill-
founded and has to be rejected under Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2).

b)   The applicant complains under Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the
Convention that following his arrest in October 1993 he was not brought
before a judge or other officer exercising judicial power.

     The Government have not commented on this point.  In his
observations in reply the applicant maintains that he was brought only
before an investigator, who, due to his status under the Code of
Criminal Procedure, does not meet the requirements of independence and
impartiality and cannot be considered an officer exercising judicial
power within the meaning of Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the
Convention, as interpreted in the Convention organs' case-law.

     The Commission notes that the above complaint is directed against
certain provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (cf. No. 24760/94,
Assenov, Ivanova, Ivanov v. Bulgaria, Comm. Report 10.7.97, paras. 130
- 143), as they have been applied at the time of the applicant's arrest
on 4 October 1993.  Apparently, there existed no remedy against the
alleged breach of Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the Convention.  In
these circumstances the six months' time-limit under Article 26
(Art. 26) of the Convention ran from the date of the alleged breach,
which allegedly occurred on 4 October 1993 and in the following several
days (cf. No. 12015/86, Dec. 6.7.88, D.R. 57, p. 108). However, the
application to the Commission was introduced on 25 October 1996, more
than six months thereafter.

     It follows that the above complaint has been introduced out of
the six months' time-limit under Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention
and that, therefore, it has to be rejected under Article 27 para. 3
(Art. 27-3).

c)   The applicant complains that there has been a breach of his right
under Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the Convention to a trial within
a reasonable time or release pending trial.

     The Government submit that the charges against the applicant
concerned serious crimes, punishable by more than five years
imprisonment.  In such cases Section 152 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure requires that the accused be detained on remand.  Release on
bail is possible, according to the jurisprudence, only in exceptional
circumstances, when there does not exist even a theoretical possibility
of absconding, repetition or hindering the administration of justice.
No such exceptional circumstances existed in the applicant's case.
Moreover, the conviction of Mr. H., one of the accomplices, for having
induced a witness to give false evidence, is indicative of the existing
danger of obstructing the investigation.

     The Government further indicate that the preliminary
investigation was concluded in April 1994, well within the relevant
time-limits.  Since then the Plovdiv Regional Court regularly scheduled
hearings in the case and took all necessary procedural steps to ensure
examination of the case within a reasonable time.  All delays were due
to reasons for which the Court was not responsible.

     On two occasions delays were caused by the fact that a juror had
fallen ill. Apart from these two occasions, in the Government's
submission, the applicant and the other three co-accused were
responsible for all remaining adjournments.  In particular, a delay of
two months was caused by the applicant's hunger strike when he was not
fit to attend the hearing.  Furthermore, every request for release and
appeal to the Supreme Court against the Regional Court's refusal caused
an inevitable delay of a month or two as the case-file had to be
transmitted to the Supreme Court in Sofia.  Moreover, the applicant and
the other co-accused, being aware that every appeal causes a delay,
kept sending appeals, despite the fact that there were no new
circumstances.  Therefore, in the Government's view, the applicant was
clearly not interested in the speedy examination of his case and was
abusing his right to appeal against his detention on remand.

     The Government conclude, referring to the criteria laid down in
Wemhoff v. Germany (Eur. Court HR, judgment of 27 June 1968, Series A
no. 7) that, taking into account the responsibility of the applicant
for most of the delays, the "reasonable time" within the meaning of
Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) and of Article 6 para. 1 (Art. 6-1) of the
Convention has not been exceeded.  The case was allegedly complex as
it concerned forgery of documents and required the appointment of
experts and the hearing of many witnesses.  Also, the Plovdiv Regional
Court had to strike a balance between the speedy examination of the
case and the necessity to examine carefully all evidence and deliver
a just judgment.

     The applicant replies that his continuing detention was
unnecessary as there was no danger of absconding, of repetition, or of
obstruction.  Furthermore, the courts when refusing bail did not give
any reasons why they considered that such danger existed but simply
referred to the gravity of the charges.

     The applicant disputes the Government's assertion that he is
responsible for most of the delays in the examination of the case.  He
submits, referring to the Court's case-law, that it is for the State
to organise its legal system so as to enable the courts to comply with
the Convention.  In the applicant's view it is disturbing to see the
Government stating that the exercise of a defence right, namely the
right to appeal against detention, can serve as an argument to justify
a restriction on another right, the right to a trial within a
reasonable time or to release pending trial.  The applicant states that
this is a dangerous remnant from the communist penal theory and
practice, according to which it was in the best interest of the accused
to cooperate, rather than to exercise his rights.

     In respect of the delays caused by jurors having fallen ill the
applicant submits that under Section 259 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure is was possible, at the outset, to appoint reserve jurors who
could have taken over without an interruption of the trial.  However,
this was not done.

     Having examined the above complaint, the Commission finds that
it raises serious questions of fact and law which are of such
complexity that their determination should depend on an examination of
the merits.  This part of the application cannot, therefore, be
regarded as manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27
para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention, and no other grounds for
declaring it inadmissible have been established.

d)   The applicant complains under Article 5 para. 4 (Art. 5-4) of the
Convention in respect of the examination by the Plovdiv Regional Court
and the Supreme Court, of his requests for release and his appeals
against the refusals of release on  bail.

     The Government have not commented on this complaint.

     The Commission notes that it can deal with the above complaint
only insofar as it concerns those proceedings which ended with the
Supreme Court's decisions of 28 May and 4 December 1996.  The
application to the Commission was lodged more than six months after the
final decisions in all earlier proceedings.  Therefore, the complaints
under Article 5 para. 4 (Art. 5-4) of the Convention concerning these
earlier proceedings have been introduced out of the six months' time-
limit under Article 26 (Art. 26) of the Convention and have to be
rejected under Article 27 para. 3 (Art. 27-3) of the Convention.

     Having examined the applicant's complaint under Article 5 para. 4
(Art. 5-4) of the Convention in respect of the proceedings before the
Plovdiv Regional Court and the Supreme Court ending with the latter
court's decisions of 28 May and 4 December 1996, the Commission finds
that it raises serious questions of fact and law which are of such
complexity that their determination should depend on an examination of
the merits.  This part of the application cannot, therefore, be
regarded as manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27
para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention, and no other grounds for
declaring it inadmissible have been established.

3.   The applicant complains under Article 6 paras. 1, 2 and 3
(Art. 6-1, 6-2, 6-3) of the Convention that the judges examining his
case were partial, that the proceedings were unfair and unreasonably
lengthy.

a)   In respect of the applicant's complaint of the length of the
proceedings, the Government refer to their submissions under Article
5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the Convention.

     The applicant also refers to his submissions in respect of
Article 5 para. 3 (Art. 5-3) of the Convention.  The applicant further
maintains that the undue delays in the proceedings continue, the
Plovdiv Regional Court still not having delivered the reasoning of its
judgment of 31 January 1997.  As a result the examination of the
applicant's appeal against the conviction and sentence has not
commenced.

     Having examined the applicant's complaint under Article 6 para. 1
(Art. 6-1) of the Convention concerning the length of the criminal
proceedings against him, the Commission finds that it raises serious
questions of fact and law which are of such complexity that their
determination should depend on an examination of the merits.  This part
of the application cannot, therefore, be regarded as manifestly ill-
founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention, and no other grounds for declaring it inadmissible have
been established.

b)   As regards the alleged partiality of the courts, the alleged
breach of the presumption of innocence, and the alleged unfairness of
the proceedings the Government submit that when dealing with the
applications for release on bail the Plovdiv Regional Court did not
examine whether the accusations against the applicant were well-
founded, but only verified whether the requirements of Section 152 of
the Code of Criminal Procedure were satisfied.  Therefore, the judge
and the two jurors did not form an opinion on the detainee's guilt.

     The applicant replies that his case is very similar to the case
of Hauschildt v. Denmark (Eur. Court HR, judgment of 24 May 1989,
Series A no. 154) in that the same judge rejected his requests for
release on bail seven times during the trial.  In the applicant's view
this inevitably and objectively led to a prejudged opinion on the
applicant's guilt.  Also, having kept the accused in detention on
remand for a very long period of time, the court inevitably became
motivated to convict him, and to sentence him to a term of imprisonment
no lesser than the period of detention on remand, as an acquittal or
a shorter sentence could result in the court's liability under the Law
on State Liability for Damage (Zakon za otgovornostta na darzhavata za
vredi prichineni na grazhdani).  The applicant concludes that the
Plovdiv Regional Court was objectively and subjectively partial.

     The Commission recalls that a complaint under Article 6 (Art. 6)
of the Convention concerning alleged unfairness of criminal proceedings
would in principle be premature when these proceedings are still
pending: the applicant cannot claim at that stage to be a victim,
within the meaning of Article 25 (Art. 25) of the Convention, of a
violation of his right to a fair trial (cf. No. 31195/96, Dec. 27.2.97,
D.R. 88, p. 169).

     The Commission notes that in the applicant's case the appeal
proceedings have not commenced yet and that in these proceedings he
will be able to raise all arguments about the alleged partiality of the
Plovdiv Regional Court and the alleged unfairness of the proceedings.
Moreover, it is open to the applicant, in case the second instance
decision is unfavourable, to submit a petition for review to the
Supreme Court of Cassation, which is also competent to examine the
allegations now raised before the Commission (cf. Nos. 24571-24572/94,
Dec. 28.6.95, D.R. 82, pp. 85, 94).

     It follows that the applicant cannot, at this stage, claim to be
a victim of the alleged violations of his rights under Article 6
(Art. 6) of the Convention to a fair trial by an impartial tribunal and
that, therefore, this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded
and has to be rejected under Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the
Convention.

c)   As regards the applicant's complaint that Bulgaria has not
complied with her obligation not to hinder the right of individual
petition under Article 25 (Art. 25) of the Convention the Government
submit information showing that as of 10 December 1996 the applicant
had met his lawyers in private 44 times. The Government also indicate
that the  domestic law guarantees the right of a detained person to
meet his lawyer and that the applicant has never raised complaints to
the domestic authorities in this respect.

     The applicant did not reply on this issue.

     The Commission considers that the applicant's complaint that
Bulgaria failed to comply with her obligation under Article 25 para.
1 (Art. 25-1) of the Convention not to hinder the right of individual
petition is wholly unsubstantiated and has to be rejected.

     For these reasons, the Commission, unanimously,

     DECLARES ADMISSIBLE, without prejudging the merits, the
applicant's complaints under Article 5 para. 3 of the Convention that
there has been a breach of his right to a trial within a reasonable
time or to release pending trial; under Article 5 para. 4 of the
Convention in respect of the proceedings concerning the applicant's
appeals against his detention on remand which ended with the Supreme
Court's decisions of 28 May and 4 December 1996; and under Article 6
para. 1 of the Convention of the length of the criminal proceedings.

     DECLARES INADMISSIBLE the remainder of the application.

     DECIDES to take no further action in respect of the applicant's
complaint concerning the alleged hindrance of his right to individual
petition under Article 25 of the Convention.

        M. de SALVIA                         S. TRECHSEL
         Secretary                             President
     to the Commission                    of the Commission