FOURTH SECTION

PARTIAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 35825/97 
by Mohamed Nuli AL AKIDI 
against Bulgaria

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 19 September 2000 as a Chamber composed of

Mr G. Ress, President
 Mr A. Pastor Ridruejo, 
 Mr L. Caflisch, 
 Mr J. Makarczyk, 
 Mr V. Butkevych, 
 Mr J. Hedigan, 
 Mrs S. Botoucharova, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application introduced with the European Commission of Human Rights on 20 January 1997 and registered on 28 April 1997,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

 

THE FACTS

The applicant is an Iraqi national, married to a Bulgarian national and living in Bulgaria. He is represented before the Court by Mr Mihail Ekimdjiev, a lawyer practising in Plovdiv.

A. The circumstances of the case

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

1. The criminal proceedings

On 10 September 1993 the Plovdiv Regional Public Prosecutor instituted preliminary investigation proceedings against the applicant and two other persons. The applicant was accused of having committed a continuing serious wilful offence of fraud and forgery in order to obtain an excise tax refund in breach of the Law of Turnover and Excise Taxes with a view to obtaining an unlawful gain for himself and others (Section 212 § 4 of the Criminal Code).

The applicant submitted that no lawyer was present during his initial questioning of 10 September 1993.

On 1 April 1994 the public prosecution completed the preliminary investigation against the applicant and three other co-accused and submitted an indictment to the Plovdiv Regional Court. The prosecution proposed 33 witnesses and a large amount of documents to be examined by the court.

The panel of judges of the regional court was composed of one professional judge and two lay judges.

The hearing scheduled for 19 April 1994 had to be adjourned as one of the lay judges was ill.

On 12 - 13 May 1994 a hearing took place before the Plovdiv Regional Court against the applicant and the other co-accused. The court decided to order the preparation of a financial report and to summon other witnesses and then adjourned the hearing.

It appears that the hearing scheduled in June 1994 had to be adjourned as the case-file was in Sofia, at the Supreme Court, for the examination of the appeals submitted by the co-accused persons against the Regional Court’s refusal to release them on bail.

The trial resumed on 6 and 7 October 1994. The court adjourned it so that the applicant and the other co-accused persons could submit further evidence. It decided to fine the witnesses who did not appear and ordered that police assistance should be provided to ensure their attendance.

 

The next hearing took place on 29 and 30 November 1994. The financial expert complained that he had been denied access to some important bank and customs office documents for which reason he could not prepare his report. The court appointed two additional financial experts and ordered the bank and the customs office to give access to the documents in question.

One of the lay judges sitting on the panel was hospitalised after having undergone a surgery. For these reasons the next hearing, listed for 9 June 1995, had to be adjourned. The court decided to gather more information on the judge’s state of health and to substitute her, if necessary.

The hearing of 21 September 1995 was adjourned, as the applicant’s lawyer had broken his leg in a car accident and had requested an adjournment to 1 November 1995. The court also observed that several witnesses had not been summoned properly and that others, albeit summoned, did not appear. The court ordered that police assistance should be provided to ensure their attendance.

The applicant submits that on 22 September 1995 the Plovdiv Regional Court, sitting in camera, dismissed his common request made with the two other co-accused, to replace the panel of judges on the ground that the judges were not impartial as they had dismissed their applications for release, on several occasions.

It appears that the lay judges sitting on the panel were seriously ill and could not take part in the hearing listed for 12 January 1996. On that basis the court adjourned the hearing to 19 February 1996. It also decided to inquire about the state of their health and to ask the president of the court whether to replace them in view of their ill health. It also appears that some of the witnesses were not summoned properly whereas others, albeit summoned, did not appear at the hearing.

As from 19 February 1996 the Plovdiv Regional Court had to recommence the examination of the case because one lay judge had fallen ill and had to be replaced. At that hearing, the court appointed two additional experts to prepare the financial report and ordered that police assistance should be provided to obtain the attendance of one of the key-witnesses.

On 21 February 1996 the police reported that the witness had gone into hiding.

The hearing resumed on 26-27 March 1996. It appears that all the summoned witnesses attended the hearing, but some of the important witnesses were not summoned properly due to a “mistake of the secretary of the court”. It further appears that five of the summoned experts did not attend the hearing some of them having been ill or out of town. On 27 March 1996 the court examined the financial report prepared by the experts and adjourned the hearing to 7 and 8 May 1996.

There was a further adjournment of the trial to 16 and 17 September 1996 as some other witnesses, although summoned, did not appear before the court and also because a lay judge was unable to attend. 

The following hearing took place on 29 October 1996. The court adjourned it to the following day due to the absence of one of the co-accused’s lawyers and ordered that police assistance should be provided to ensure the attendance of several witnesses who had been summoned, but did not appear at the hearing. There was a further adjournment, because the medical experts considered that one of the co-accused was not in a condition to participate in the hearing due to his poor state of health.

The hearing of 19 December 1996 had to be adjourned again as two of the summoned witnesses had not appeared before the court. The court ordered that police assistance should be provided in this respect and requested one of the co-accused to notify the court of the address of the witnesses for the defence.

The last hearing was held on 28 through 31 January 1997. The key witness finally appeared before the court. The court rejected the applicant’s request for a re-hearing of four witnesses who had been heard during the preliminary investigation.

On 31 January 1997 the applicant was found guilty of having forged tax documents with a view to obtaining an unlawful gain for himself. He was sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment. His accomplices were also convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of eleven and twelve years respectively. The Regional Court reserved the reasoning of its judgment. The reasoning was prepared on an unspecified date in 1997 not earlier than three months following the delivery of the judgment.

Upon the applicant’s appeal, the Supreme Court of Cassation listed the case for a hearing on 26 September 1997. On that date the prosecutor appointed to act before that court declared that he had known one of the convicted persons and that he wished to withdraw. The hearing which was adjourned to 23 January 1998 resumed on 16 March 1998. The applicant’s appeal against the decision of the Regional Court was dismissed on that latter date.

On 22 March 1999 the Supreme Court of Cassation dismissed the applicant’s petition for review. From the minutes taken when the applicant had been questioned the court concluded that the applicant’s right to defence was not infringed as he had been informed promptly about the accusations against him, he had understood them fully and had given explanations. The court further found that the applicant’s right to defence had not been restricted in any other way during the preliminary investigation. It also considered justified the Regional Court’s refusal to examine some evidence adduced by the applicant, as it had been irrelevant and also because, in any event, sufficient corroborating evidence had been examined by that court.   

2. The applicant’s pre-trial detention

On 10 September 1993 the applicant was arrested and detained pending trial.

On 22 September 1993 the applicant’s lawyer filed an application for his client’s release with the Regional Public Prosecutor, which was dismissed on 1 October 1993 on the ground that the applicant was a foreign citizen and that, therefore, there was a danger of his absconding.

On 26 October 1993 the applicant again appealed to the Regional Public Prosecutor on the ground that there was no danger of his absconding, him being a political emigrant and his passport having been confiscated by the Bulgarian authorities.

On 27 October 1993 the applicant appealed against his detention to the Plovdiv Regional Court on the grounds that he was a respectable citizen with a permanent address and a family. He also argued that the authorities had not provided any evidence as to the existence of a danger of his absconding, re-offending or obstructing the course of justice. On 3 November 1993 the applicant’s application for release was dismissed by the court in camera. The court held that the applicant had been charged with a serious wilful offence and that there was a danger of his absconding, committing further offences or obstructing the course of justice.

On 10 March 1994, when the applicant was questioned, he had already appointed a lawyer who was at the same time the legal counsel of another co-accused in connection to the same investigation.

The applicant’s judicial application for release of 19 September 1994, lodged with the Plovdiv Regional Court, was dismissed at a hearing on 6 October 1994 without any specific reference as to the existence of a danger of the applicant’s absconding, committing further offences or obstructing the course of justice.

At the trial hearing of 29 and 30 November 1994, the applicant requested to be released on bail on the grounds that his pre-trial detention had been continuing for more then a year, that there had been no danger that he might abscond and that he had a permanent address. The court dismissed the application holding that there were no new facts regarding his release according to the domestic law.

The applicant’s subsequent appeal was dismissed on 4 December 1994, by the Plovdiv Regional Court. The court held, inter alia, that according to the domestic law and the Supreme Court’s practice detention pending trial was prima facie necessary when a person had been accused of having committed a grave wilful offence. To substitute this judicial measure by a more lenient one would only be possible if there was “not even a hypothetical danger that the accused might abscond or commit further offences”, in particular, “if he is ill, elderly or isolated from the society [serves another prison sentence]”.

On 20 January 1995 the applicant appealed the above decision to the Supreme Court, on the grounds that the charges had not been made out and that the authorities had not provided any evidence as to the existence of a danger of his absconding, re-offending or obstructing the course of justice. On 21 February 1995 that court dismissed the applicant’s appeal, holding that there were no new facts which would require his release.

On 20 September 1995 the applicant again appealed against his detention to the Plovdiv Regional Court on the grounds that he had not committed an offence, that he had a permanent address and had been fully co-operating with the authorities during the preliminary investigation. He stated, in addition, that if he was released his wife and newly born son, who had left Bulgaria, would come back. This would give him more opportunities to be with them. He further stated that there had been no danger of his absconding, or committing further offences. On 22 September 1995, the Plovdiv Regional Court, sitting in camera, dismissed the application. On 6 November 1995 the applicant’s subsequent appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court in the presence of the Public Prosecutor. Neither the applicant nor his lawyer were present.

Another application for release was dismissed on 19 February 1996 at the trial hearing before the Plovdiv Regional Court on the ground that the applicant was charged with a serious wilful crime which automatically required the imposition of pre-trial detention in accordance with section 152 § 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

On 27 March 1996 the applicant submitted another application to the Plovdiv Regional Court requesting his detention to be substituted by a more lenient measure, in order to spend some more time with his newly born son. He further argued that since all evidence in his case had already been gathered, there was no danger of his absconding or obstructing the course of justice. He also invoked the Convention. The Regional Court dismissed the application on the same day on the grounds that the applicant was charged with serious offence with intent and that there were no new facts which required his release. It did not comment on the alleged violations of the Convention. The applicant’s subsequent appeal was dismissed on 9 April 1996 by the Supreme Court.

On 28 January 1997, at the trial hearing, the applicant’s application for release, submitted on the same day, was dismissed by the Plovdiv Regional Court.

B. Relevant domestic law

1. Criminal Code

Section 212 §§ 1, 2 and 4 provides that a person who forges documents or utters forged documents with a view to obtaining an unlawful gain for himself and others shall be sentenced to up to eight years’ imprisonment. In serious cases of fraud and forgery of documents, the perpetrator may be sentenced to imprisonment of ten to twelve years.

2. Code of Criminal Procedure

(a) Legal counsel

Section 73 provides that an accused shall have the right his legal counsel to be present during his arrest and preliminary investigation and that he shall be informed of this right by the investigation authorities. Section 87 § 1 provides that the applicant shall be questioned in the presence of his lawyer if he so requests.

(b) Legal criteria for detention on remand

Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Section 152, as in force at the relevant time and until 4 June 1995, provided as follows:

“(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’s obstructing the course of justice, absconding or committing further offences.”

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

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

(2) In the cases falling under paragraph 1 [detention on remand] may not be imposed if there is no danger of the accused’s obstructing the course of justice, absconding or committing further offences.”

According to Section 93 § 7 of the Criminal Code “serious” is a crime punishable by more than five years’ imprisonment.

According to the Supreme Court’s practice, Article 152 § 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure requires that a person charged with a “serious wilful crime” shall be detained pending trial. The only exception is provided for by Article 152 § 2 of the Code, which empowers the prosecutor not to detain an accused where it is clear beyond doubt that there is no danger of his absconding or committing further offences. Such a danger must be shown objectively not to exist as, for example, in the case of an accused who is seriously ill, or elderly, or is detained on other grounds such as serving a sentence (опред. No. 1 от 4.5.1992. по н.д. 1/92. на ВС II н.о., Сб. 1992/93, стр. 172; опред. No. 4 от 21.2.1995 по н.д. 76/95 на ВС II н.о.; опред. No. 78 от 6.11.1995 по н.д. 768/95 на ВС II н.о.; опред. No. 24 по н.д. 268/95 на ВС, I н.о., Сб.1995, стр. 149). In some more recent decisions the Supreme Court has nevertheless embarked on an analysis of the particular facts to justify findings that there existed a danger of absconding or of offending (опред. No. 76 от 25.07.1997 по н.д. No. 507/97 на ВС II н.о., бюл. кн. 9-10/97, стр. 5; опред. No. 107 от 27.05.1998 по н.д. 257/98 на ВС II н.о., бюл. кн. 3-4/98, стр. 12).

(c) Appeals against detention during the trial

Under Section 304 § 1 the detainee’s requests for release at the trial stage of the criminal proceedings are examined by the trial court. The Code does not provide for any limitation on the number or frequency of the requests for release. It follows from Section 304 §§ 1 and 2 that such requests may be examined in camera or at an oral hearing. The law does not require the trial court to decide within a particular time-limit.

The trial court’s decision as regards a request for release is subject to appeal to the higher court (Section 344 § 3). The appeal must be lodged within seven days (Section 345) with the trial court (Section 348 § 4 in conjunction with Section 317, as in force at the relevant time). According to Section 347, after receiving the appeal, the trial court, sitting in camera, shall decide whether there grounds to annul or alter its decision exist. If it finds no such reason the trial court transmits the appeal to the higher court.

Section 348 provides that the appellate court may examine the appeal in camera or, if it considers it necessary, at a public hearing. The law does not require the appellate court to rule within a particular time-limit. 

COMPLAINTS

The applicant complains under Articles 3 and 14 of the Convention stating that his long detention amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. In particular, he states that since his pre-trial detention was excessively lengthy he was deprived of his right to work and be remunerated. Therefore, he was discriminated against, compared to convicted persons.

The applicant complains under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that he was detained unlawfully. In particular, the authorities had not provided any evidence as to the existence of a danger of his absconding, re-offending or obstructing the course of justice.

The applicant complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that he was not brought before a judge when he was arrested and detained pending trial. He further complains that his detention was excessively lengthy.

The applicant complains under Article 5 § 4 that his applications for release were not examined speedily. He submits that on several occasions it took two months to the Regional Court to examine his applications for release. The applicant further complains under the same article that on several occasions the Regional Court and the Supreme Court failed to hold public hearing, while examining his applications for release.

He also invokes Article 13 of the Convention stating that there is no effective domestic remedy in respect of the alleged violations of Article 5 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

The applicant further complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the unfairness of the criminal proceedings against him. He alleges that the judges were partial, having regard to the fact that the judges of the Plovdiv Regional Court who decided his case on the merits had previously taken decisions on his pre-trial detention.

He complains under the same provision that the criminal proceedings against him were excessively lengthy.

The applicant further complains under Article 6 § 3 (b) and (c) of the Convention that he was arrested and questioned without the presence of a lawyer, that on several occasions the court adjourned the hearing without setting a new date for the trial which prevented him from planning the preparation of his defence, and that he was not served with the reasoning of the first instance judgment on time, which interfered with his right to file an appeal with a higher court.

THE LAW

1. The applicant complains under Articles 3 and 14 of the Convention that the sole fact that he was detained for a long time amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The Court finds nothing in the applicant’s submissions or the materials in the case which would give raise to an issue under Articles 3 and 14.

It follows that the complaints are inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention and that they must be rejected under Article 35 § 4.

2. The applicant complains under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that his detention was unlawful and arbitrary.

Article 5 § 1, insofar as relevant, provides as follows:

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…;

In the light of all the material in its possession the Court does not find any indication that the applicant’s detention was unlawful or ordered otherwise than “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law”, within the meaning of Article 5 § 1. The Court considers that the detention until 31 January 1997 fell within the ambit of Article 5 § 1(c), as it was ordered for the purpose of bringing the applicant before the competent legal authority on suspicion of having committed an offence. As regards the alleged lack of a reasonable suspicion, the Court is not convinced by the applicant’s arguments in this respect. The charges against the applicant were based on documents, testimonies and other evidence which indicated that he might have forged tax documents with a view to obtaining an unlawful gain for himself and others.

Insofar as the applicant’s complaint also concerns his detention pending appeal, the Court observes that a detention “after conviction by a competent court” falls under Article 5 § 1(a) of the Convention, even if it is considered as detention on remand under domestic law (the B. v. Austria judgement of 28 March 1990, Series A no. 175, pp. 14-16, §§ 35-40).

In this respect, the Court finds no elements capable of showing that the applicant’s conviction had no basis in domestic law or was arbitrary.

It follows that the complaint under Article 5 § 1 is inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 §§ 3 and  4 of the Convention.

3. The applicant further complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that he was not brought promptly before a judge when he was arrested and under Article 13 of the Convention that he does not have an effective remedy in this respect.

Article 5 § 3 provides as follows:

  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...”

Article 13 provides as follows:

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in the Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

The Court observes that the above complaint is apparently related to the fact that under Bulgarian law, as it stood at the relevant time, neither investigators, before whom arrested persons appeared, nor prosecutors, who were competent to approve decisions for detention on remand, could be considered “officer[s] authorised by law to exercise judicial power” (Nikolova v. Bulgaria, no. 31195/96, § 50, ECHR 1999-…). Since this complaint concerns certain provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the existence of such provisions created a form of continuing situation in which an individual could - for a long time - be deprived of his right to be brought before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power within the meaning of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention (appl. no. 32220/96, decision of 23.4.98).

The Court recalls that according to the established case-law of the Convention organs, where no domestic remedy is available the six-month period runs from the act alleged to constitute a violation of the Convention; however, where it concerns a continuing situation, it runs from the end of the situation concerned ([see] appl. no. 14807/89, decision of 12.2.92, DR 72, p. 148; appl. no. 19601/92, decision of 19.1.95, DR 80-B, p. 46, appl. no. 32220/96, decision of 23.4.98).

The applicant was arrested on 10 September 1993. From the applicant’s submissions it is clear that he was brought before a judge for the first time on 12 May 1994 when he could have submitted an application for release. That is therefore, the point when the six-months’ period started to run, for the purposes of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention.

The applicant introduced his first letter with the European Commission of Human Rights on 20 January 1997.

It follows that the above complaints have been introduced out of the six months’ time-limit under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

4. The applicant complains under Articles 5 § 3 and 13 that his pre-trial detention was unreasonably long and that he does not have an effective remedy in this respect.

The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case-file, determine the admissibility of these complaints and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 3 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.  

5. The applicant complains under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention that his applications for release were not examined speedily, and that on several occasions the Regional and Supreme Courts failed to hold public hearings. He also invokes Article 13.

 

According to the Court’s established case-law Article 5 § 4 of the Convention constitutes a lex specialis in relation to the more general requirements of Article 13 (Nikolova v. Bulgaria, no. 31195/96, § 69, ECHR 1999-…). The Court considers that the complaints fall to be examined under Article 5 § 4, which provides as follows:

“  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.”

The Court observes that since the applicant has introduced his first letter with the Commission on 20 January 1997, his complaints under Article 5 § 4 in respect of the judicial proceedings which occurred before 20 July 1996 have to be rejected as being introduced out of the six months’ time-limit under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

As regards the remainder of the applicant’s complaint under Article 5 § 4 which concerns the examination by the Regional Court of his application for release submitted on 28 January 1997, the Court observes that it was dealt with the same day at a public hearing.

It follows that the remainder of the applicant’s complaints under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention are inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention and that they must be rejected under Article 35 § 4.

6. The applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the judges were partial and that the criminal proceedings against him were excessively lengthy.

The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of these complaints and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 3 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

7. The applicant alleges under Article 6 § 3 (b) and (c) of the Convention that he was not served with the reasoning of the first instance judgment on time which interfered with his right to lodge an appeal, that on several occasions the Regional Court adjourned the hearing without setting a new date for the trial, and that he was arrested and questioned without the presence of his lawyer.

As far as relevant, Article 6 § 3 reads as follows:

“  Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(b)  to have adequate time … for the preparation of his defence;

(c)  to defend himself … through legal assistance of his own choosing …;

…”

 

 As regards the applicant’s complaint that he was not served with the reasoning of the first instance judgment on time, the Court notes that this was done on an unspecified date in 1997, whereas the first hearing before the Supreme Court of Cassation, which has examined the appeal against that judgment, was on 16 March 1998. The applicant must have had sufficient time to prepare his case for that hearing.

The applicant further complains that on several occasions the Regional Court adjourned the hearing without setting a new date for the trial which did not give him an adequate time to prepare the defence for those particular hearings. However, the applicant has not indicated the dates on which he was notified of the time for each hearing. Therefore, it has not been shown that he was not given a notice in due time to prepare for the next hearing.

Insofar as the applicant complains that he was arrested and questioned without the presence of a lawyer, the Court recalls that Article 6 applies at the stage of the preliminary investigation of a criminal case. In particular, Article 6 § 3 may be relevant before a case is sent for trial if and so far as the fairness of the trial is likely to be seriously prejudiced by an initial failure to comply with its provisions (see the John Murray v. the United Kingdom judgment of 8 February 1996, Reports 1996-I, p. 54, § 62).

The Court further recalls that Article 6 § 3 will normally require an accused to benefit from the assistance of a lawyer at the initial stages of police interrogation if the consequences of the accused’s attitude are decisive for the prospects of the defence in subsequent proceedings (see the above-mentioned John Murray judgment, p. 54, § 63).

In the instant case the Court observes that the applicant failed to specify whether he requested the presence of a lawyer when he was arrested and questioned, as he was entitled to do under domestic law. He also did not complain that he had not been informed by the authorities of this right. Furtheron, from his submissions it appears that as of 22 September 1993, when he appealed against his detention, he already had a lawyer. The applicant has not stated that his lawyer had requested but had been denied the right to be present by the authorities at the questioning of his client. Taking into account the above, the Court finds that the applicant has failed to substantiate his complaint.

The Court finds that the complaints under Article 6 § 3 (b) and (c) of the Convention are manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention and therefore must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

For these reasons, the Court, unanimously,

DECIDES TO ADJOURN the examination of the applicant’s complaints that his pre-trial detention was excessively lengthy, that the first instance judges were partial and that the criminal proceedings against him were excessively lengthy;

DECLARES INADMISSIBLE the remainder of the application.

Vincent Berger Georg Ress 
 Registrar President

35825/97 - -


- - 35825/97