I.   THE FACTS

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant and apparently not
in dispute between the Parties.

The applicant is a German citizen, born in 1935 and was living in
Bremen when lodging the application. He is at present detained in
prison in Bremen.

In 1967 the police started investigations against the applicant and
others who were suspected of having committed numerous fraudulent acts.
The applicant was for the first time interrogated by the police in
winter 1968. At the instance of the criminal police (Kriminalamt) a
photograph of the applicant and two other men was published in two
Bremen newspapers with a warning to the public. These publications
appeared on .. May 1969. According to the newspaper articles the
applicant and the other men worked as itinerant salesmen. They offered
their services to business firms and claimed commissions for orders
which they had allegedly collected. It turned out later that either the
person who was supposed to have placed an order did not exist or his
signature had been forged. According to the police the three suspects
had the order signed by their accomplices or their wives. It further
followed from the articles that the police had not yet collected enough
evidence sufficient for an indictment and that the suspected trio could
not even be arrested as they had a fixed abode. In fact the applicant
was not even arrested before .. August 1971 on the authority of a
warrant of arrest (Haftbefehl) issued on .. May 1971 on the ground that
there was strong suspicion of him having committed fraud (Tatverdacht)
and that there was, furthermore, danger that he might abscond
(Fluchtgefahr).

The indictment (Anklage) against the applicant was filed in March 1970.

On .. May 1970 the Regional Court (Landgericht) in Bremen rejected the
applicant's request to carry out preliminary court investigations
(Voruntersuchung). This decision was confirmed on .. June 1970 by the
Hanseatic Court of Appeal (Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht) in Bremen.
Both courts stated that the evidence offered by the applicant could be
taken during the trial.

The trial against the applicant and his co-accused started in January
1971 before the District Court (erweitertes Schöffengericht) in Bremen
but the case was later remanded to the Regional Court.

The trial before the Regional Court in Bremen started in April 1971 and
on .. June 1971 the applicant was convicted of continued fraud
(fortgesetzter Betrug) and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. The
Court further ordered that for a period of five years the applicant was
not allowed to exercise the profession of an itinerant salesman.

The applicant appealed (Revision) alleging violations of certain rules
on criminal procedure.

On .. August 1972 the Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof) quashed the
Regional Court's decision and sent the case back for a new trial. This
decision was based on the following grounds:  from .. May 1971 the
trial had been carried out in the applicant's absence who was allegedly
suffering from feverish influenza at the time.

On .. May 1971 the trial curt considered and discussed the applicant's
previous convictions. These convictions were later taken into account
in fixing the applicant's sentence. The Federal Court found that
procedural law and been violated because the applicant's previous
convictions had been discussed in his absence. The Federal Court stated
that for these reasons it did not have to deal with the applicant's
complaints as to the merits. However the court added in an obiter
dictum that the complaints were unfounded.

The Federal Court did not, however, order the applicant's release.
The applicant lodged several appeals (Beschwerden) complaining of his
detention on remand. These appeals were all rejected by the Hanseatic
Court of Appeal in decisions of .. November 1971 (a further appeal
against this decision was rejected by the same court as being
inadmissible), .. March 1972, .. April 1972, .. August 1972, ..
February 1973 and .. September 1973 on the ground that there was danger
of absconding. In the last-mentioned decision the court stated that,
according to inquiries made, the applicant was fit for detention. The
Court of Appeal referred to the reasons stated in the warrant of
arrest. In its decision of .. August 1972 it added that less stringent
measures were not indicated as they would not secure the purpose of
detention on remand.

On .. February 1973 the Regional Court again convicted the applicant
of fraud and this time sentenced him to four and a half years'
imprisonment. The court also ordered that for a period of five years
the applicant was not allowed to exercise the profession of an
itinerant salesman.

The applicant again appealed but his appeal was again rejected on ..
November 1973.

The applicant laid criminal charges against the police officer who had
been responsible for the newspaper article in which the applicant was
described as a fraudulent person. On .. July 1969 the Chief Public
Prosecutor (Leitender Oberstaatsanwalt) in Bremen informed the
applicant that he had discontinued the proceedings against the police
officer concerned. He stated that the only provisions of the Criminal
Code which the police officer might perhaps have violated were Article
185 et seq. (insulting remarks, slander) but it was not in the public
interest to continue the criminal proceedings ex officio. He informed
the applicant that he was free to bring an action (Privatklage) against
the police officer. But he advised him that such an action had no
prospects of success as the police officer could, at least partially,
prove that the information he gave to the press was correct and he
could argue that it was given in the public interest.

The applicant also laid criminal charges of perversion of justice
(Rechtsbeugung) against a judge. It appears that he later withdrew his
complaints but he was informed by the Public Prosecutor on .. May 1970
that in any event his accusations against the judge were unfounded.

The applicant has complained of his conviction and sentence to the
Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) but his
complaint was not registered as a constitutional appeal as it was
partly inadmissible and for the remainder clearly ill-founded.

COMPLAINTS

The applicant complains that he was branded in a newspaper article as
a fraudulent person although he had neither been convicted nor had he
made a confession at that time.

He further complains that the court rejected his request for a
preliminary investigation (Voruntersuchung).

He also complains that the Public Prosecutor did not investigate the
true facts of his case quickly enough.

Finally, he complains that he was wrongly convicted and sentenced. He
states that, as a consequence of the above-mentioned newspaper article
published before his trial the judges were biased against him. He also
alleges that the trial court did not consider evidence offered by him.

The applicant invokes Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention.

II.  Proceedings before the Commission

In view of the fact that the applicant had not exhausted domestic
remedies when he lodged his application it was not examined by the
Commission before 1 October 1973 when the Commission decided to
communicate the application to the Federal Government for observations
on decision with regard to the applicant's complaint that he was not
brought to trial within a reasonable time within the meaning of Article
5 (3) of the Convention. The Government's observations were received
on 13 February 1974 and the applicant as then invited to reply. His
reply was received on 27 February 1974.

III. The relevant parts of the observations of the Federal Government
on admissibility submitted on 11 February 1974 (received on 11 March
1974).

(1)  As regards Article 6 (1) of the Convention it is submitted that
the length of the proceedings cannot be regarded as excessive
considering the offenses with which the applicant was charged, his own
conduct during the proceedings, and the requirements of criminal
proceedings properly conducted in a State governed by the rule of law.

(a)  The charge against the applicant was preferred on .. March 1970;
at this time the period under Article 6 (1) of the Convention began to
run. The pronouncement of the first judgment of the Regional Court
(Landgericht) Bremen on .. June 1971 might be regarded as the material
time for the end of the period because the Federal Court
(Bundesgerichtshof), when deciding the petition for review, did not
pronounce upon the merits of the charge. If this is not considered the
material time because the first judgment of the Regional Court Bremen
was not upheld, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
submits that the period ended with the Regional Court's second judgment
of .. February 1973. With this judgment, the merits of the charge were
definitely determined. In its order of .. November 1973 dismissing the
petition for review directed against this judgment the Federal Court
merely declared that the review of the judgment on the basis of the
grounds given for the appeal had not revealed an error of law to the
accused's detriment. Consequently, by this order no further-reaching
or varying decision is passed on the charge. The observations made as
a matter of precaution hereinafter refer to the time from .. March 1970
to .. February 1973, i.e. a period of 2 years, 10 months, and 18 days.

(b)  Having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, this
period cannot be considered unreasonably long:

In the indictment of.. March 1970 the applicant was charged in a great
number of cases with having obtained as a commission agent money under
false pretences usually together with his three co-accused. He was
accused of producing fictitious orders to various firms and receiving
or trying to receive commissions as a commission agent; it was alleged
that some of the people named as buyers did not exist, that, in other
cases, the orders were not signed by the persons named in them or
signed without intention of buying. The indictment, which ran to 50
pages, named 84 witnesses and listed 318 individual cases; in most
cases the applicant was alleged to be the offender or a joint offender.

On .. April 1970, after the indictment had been preferred, the
applicant applied for judicial preliminary investigation, i.a. on the
ground that so far he had not yet had sufficient opportunity to confer
with his defence counsel. He also declared above all that a more
thorough investigation would show that he had not rendered himself
liable to punishment. On .. May the Public Prosecutor opposed the
application, which was rejected by order of the Regional Court on ..
May. Against this order of the Regional Court the applicant then filed
an immediate appeal (sofortige Beschwerde) dated .. May. After the
Prosecutor General had made his observations thereof, the Court of
Appeal (Oberlandesgericht), by order of .. June, dismissed the
immediate appeal as unfounded.

On .. July 1970 the Regional Court ordered the opening of the main
proceedings against the four accused. In doing so, it directed that the
trial should be held in the District Court (Amtsgericht) Bremen sitting
as an "Erweitertes Schöffengericht", i.e. with two professional judges
(instead of one judge). Against this order the Public Prosecutor filed
an immediate appeal dated .. July applying for the proceedings to be
held before the Regional Court Bremen. On .. August this immediate
appeal was withdrawn. Thereupon papers were sent to the District Court
Bremen where they were received on .. August.

In that same month of August the District Court began preparing the
trial, as appears from the files; i.a. other files had to be obtained.
On .. September a warrant of the arrest of the co-accused D. was issued
on account of the danger that he might abscond. By letter of ..
November the District Court informed counsel for the accused of its
intention to begin with the trial in January 1971. On .. December it
decided that the trial should begin on .. January 1971, and it ordered
the formal summonses to be issued. The trial was held on .., .., ..,
and .. January 1971.

On the first day of the trial the applicant challenged the president
of the court alleging that he might be biased. The challenge was
rejected as inadmissible. The applicant declared that he would make no
statement as to the facts. On .. January the Public Prosecutor applied
for a reference of the proceedings to the Regional Court Bremen. The
Court granted the application on the same day. In the reasons for its
order it referred to its limited powers of imposing sentences, since,
under Section 24, paragraph 2, of the German Judicature Act
(Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz), District Courts may impose no severer
punishment than three years' imprisonment. The District Court Bremen
pointed out that on .. December 1970, by a judgment that had become
final and binding, the accused B. was sentenced to two years and seven
months' imprisonment; in the proceedings at bar the formation of a new
aggregate sentence had to be considered. Moreover, the District Court
took into account that in January 1971 the applicant was sentenced to
three months' imprisonment, which brought the number of his previous
convictions up to 17. To elucidate the facts of the case it was
necessary that the proceedings should be continued against all four
co-accused jointly.

On .. February 1971, after receiving the files, the Regional Court
Bremen decided that the new trial should take place on .. April 1971.
On .. April a further indictment was preferred against the four accused
in new proceedings; they were charged with rather similar offenses. The
cases concerned had not come to light before the conclusion of the
investigations in the earlier proceedings. Some of the charges related
to offenses that had been committed as late as at or after the
conclusion of the investigations in those proceedings. The new
indictment included 93 individual offenses, naming 37 witnesses. On ..
April the Regional Court decided to combine both proceedings.

The trial before the Regional Court was held on 14 days between ..
April and .. June 1971. 45 witnesses were heard in the course of the
proceedings; the record of the trial comprises 246 pages. In the
beginning of the trial the applicant declared that he was prepared to
answer questions regarding the charges. On .. May, however, he failed
to appear. On the same day a warrant was issued for his arrest. In a
letter of .. May, in which he informed the court  that he was ill -
without giving any details of his illness - he did not disclose his
whereabouts. On .. June he reported to the inhabitants' registration
office that he was leaving for Kenya. Subsequently, however, he stayed
in Lübeck and Travemünde, sometimes under assumed names.

On .. August he was apprehended at T. after trying to make his get-away
in a private car. Following his arrest he first served the sentence of
three months' imprisonment earlier imposed upon him. From .. November
1971 he was in custody on remand.

On .. May, after the applicant had absented himself from the trial, the
Regional Court first separated the proceedings against him from the
other proceedings. On .. May, the proceedings were again combined. The
judgment was pronounced on .. June 1971, the applicant being sentenced
to an aggregate sentence of 5 years' imprisonment.

On behalf of the applicant and his co-accused D. and S. defence counsel
filed petitions for review on .. and .. June, respectively. On ..
October the judgment was handed to the applicant who had meanwhile been
arrested; the reasons filled 218 pages. Grounds for the applicant's
petition for review were given in his counsel's written pleadings dated
.. November 1971. On .. November 1971 the applicant lodged an appeal
(Beschwerde) complaining of his detention. It was dismissed as
unfounded by order of .. November. Against this order of the Court of
Appeal the applicant lodged a "further appeal" (weitere Beschwerde)
dated .. December 1971 which was rejected as inadmissible by order of
.. December. On both occasions the files of the criminal proceedings
were transmitted to the Court of Appeal through the Prosecutor General.

On .. February 1972 the Public Prosecutor in Bremen filed an answer to
the petition for review. The Federal Prosecutor's applications of ..
June 1972 were received by the Federal Court on the following day. By
order of .. July 1972 the oral hearing of the petition for review was
fixed to take place on .. August. On this day the Federal Court decided
that the Regional Court's judgment on the applicant should be
completely set aside. According to the reasons, it was decisive for
this order only that the applicant's previous convictions, as shown by
an excerpt from the register of convictions, were discussed on .. May
1971, i.e. in his absence. In respect of the accused D. and S. the
Federal Court only quashed the Regional Court's sentence.

In the meantime the main files had grown to consist of 9, the
supplementary files of 63 volumes. After the judgment had been drawn
up, it was received with the files by the Federal Prosecutor on ..
September and by the Public Prosecutor Bremen on .. September. On ..
September the applicant filed a complaint against the decision of the
Regional Court; on .. October he also lodged an appeal concerning his
detention. On account of these two objections the files of the criminal
proceedings were first transmitted to the Prosecutor General for his
observations and the to the Court of Appeal for decision. When the
Court of Appeal had rejected the appeal concerning his detention, which
was on .. October, it next day returned the files, which were no longer
needed of its further decision, in order to avoid delay in the
preparation of the trial.

On .. November 1972 the president of the penal chamber of the Regional
Court noted down that the applicant's new trial should start on ..
January 1973. At the same time he ordered that the new trial of the
co-accused D. and S. should be held on .. December. As the first
judgment had become final and binding as regards the conviction of
these co-accused, no new fact-finding was necessary in those
proceedings. It was, therefore, deemed expedient to separate the
shorter main proceedings.

On .. November 1972 the date for the applicant's new trial was finally
set down, and accordingly it was begun on .. January 1973. 33 witnesses
were called. In the beginning of the proceedings the applicant declared
that he would make no statement. The trial was held on .., .., .., ..,
and .. January and on .., .., .., and .. February. The record consists
of 140 pages; the written reasons for the judgment, which were drawn
up later, are 92 pages long.

(c)  It follows from the observations made in sub-paragraph (b) that
the proceedings were not delayed. It is the applicant's own fault that,
from .. April to .. June 1970, no decision could be taken on the
opening of the main proceedings because his application for judicial
preliminary investigation and his immediate appeal against the order
dismissing the application had to be decided first. The subsequent
proceedings revealed that the application was entirely without
foundation.

When it was settled that no preliminary investigation would be held,
the Regional Court opened the main proceedings without delay. Inasmuch
as the Public Prosecutor filed an immediate appeal against the opening
order, preparations for the trial could not yet be made.

The time between the withdrawal of the immediate appeal (.. August
1970) and the appointment of a date for the trial ( .. December 1970)
was not unduly long. It must be taken into consideration that the
judges had to make themselves familiar with a very extensive
indictment.

In the trial before the District Court there was no avoidable delay.
The reference of the proceedings to the Regional Court on .. January
1971 was required,  because i.a. judgments by which prison sentences
were imposed on two of the accused had meanwhile become final and
binding and the inclusion of these sentences in an aggregate sentence
to be formed had to be considered.

It is true that the proceedings would have been shorter if the Regional
Court in its opening order had complied with the Public Prosecutor's
request not to open the main proceedings before the "Schöffengericht"
(of the District Court). It may well be that this would have been
better. However, if the proceedings had thus been conducted more
speedily, it would not have been possible to combine them with the
second proceedings in which the indictment was preferred on .. April
1971. In these proceedings, in which the indictment could not be
preferred earlier, the trial could not have begun before April 1971
anyhow - and this is exactly what happened in the combined proceedings.
Consequently, if one considers all the charges raised against the four
accused in this connection, the final determination of the charges was
hardly delayed by opening the first proceedings before the
"Schöffengericht".

In the opinion of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
violation of Article 6 (1), first sentence, of the Convention, cannot
be held to lie just because the Regional Court, in using its powers of
opening proceedings, took a course the expedience of which could later
be doubted.

As regards the proceedings before the Regional Court the following
remarks may be made:  the date for the trial was fixed as early as 10
days after the files had been received by the Regional Court, i.e. on
.. February 1971.

In consideration of the circumstances, the setting down of a trial date
still a month and a half distant was the proper course to take. In the
meantime, about 80 witnesses had to be summoned. If a summons could not
be served, attempts had to be made to find the witness's new address.

There were no avoidable delays, either, during the trial from .. April
to .. June 1971 and in the drawing up of the judgment served on the
applicant on 1 October. The time of two and a half months taken for
drawing up the reasons for the judgment appears to be appropriate in
view of the complexity of the case and the necessary length of the
reasons (218 pages). The time up to .. November was required by
applicant's counsel to state the reasons for his petition for review.
From the middle of November up to the middle of December the files were
needed to deal with the complaints made by the applicant.

When forming an opinion on the length of the period until the
submission of the answer to the petition for review (on .. February
1972) and the making of applications by the Federal Prosecutor (on ..
June 1972) it must be born in mind that the contents of the files had
in the meantime grown considerably, that three different petitions for
review had been filed, and that the applicant's petition contained
numerous complaints. It took but little time to fix a date for the oral
hearing before the Federal Court and to hold that hearing.

If it is remembered that a new separate trial had to take place in
December 1972 against the co-accused D. and S. the time until the new
trial against the applicant began on .. January 1973 does not appear
to be long. The trial itself was speedily conducted.

In summarising, it must be stressed that the extraordinary complexity
of the case, especially the great number of witnesses, made it
unavoidable that the proceedings took some time. Furthermore, there was
the inseparable connection with the proceedings against three other
accused who acted similar to the applicant or jointly with him. The
most decisive point was, however, that in accordance with the
requirements of the law of criminal procedure the charges repeatedly
had to be determined by new tribunals and that the allegations made
against the applicant were the subject of three different oral hearings
before fact-finding courts. Between the first and the second judgment
of the Regional Court alone more than 1 year and 10 months elapsed.

This prolongation of proceedings was caused only because the applicant
had absented himself from the first trial before the Regional Court.
His subsequent conduct reveals that his allegation that he was ill
cannot be believed. This is indicated especially by the fact that, as
far as can be seen, he made no concrete statements about his alleged
illness and produced no medical certificate. From his conduct it can
only be inferred that he wanted to delay the proceedings by staying
away from the trial. Almost two-thirds of the length of the proceedings
must, therefore, be ascribed to the applicant's conduct which was aimed
at prolonging the proceedings.

It is submitted that, under these circumstances, a violation of Article
6 (1), first sentence, of the Convention cannot be established.

(2)  Also under Article 5 (3) of the Convention, the application must
be regarded as manifestly ill-founded; the material period under this
provision was not unreasonably long however it may be calculated.

(a)  The following observations may be made on the computation of the
period:  if it is not held that the applicant's detention in its
entirety falls under Article 5 (1) (a) of the Convention, the Federal
Government takes the view that the material period is the time from ..
August 1972 to .. February 1973. This is a period of 5 months and 27
days. If, in addition, also the time spent under detention on remand
between the Regional Court's first judgment and the Federal Court's
decision of .. August 1972 is considered, the material period would be
the time from .. November 1971 to .. February 1973, i.e. a period of
one year, two months, and  27 days.

(b)  Neither of these periods is unreasonably long. When judging them,
in addition to the facts mentioned in paragraph (1) (b), the following
circumstances should be considered:

After his apprehension on .. August 1971 the applicant, as already
mentioned, first served a sentence of three months' imprisonment that
had earlier been imposed upon him. On .. November 1971 the Regional
Court Bremen issued a new warrant of arrest against him. It was based
on the consideration that the applicant was strongly suspected of fraud
and forgery of instruments in 22 cases as was shown by the Regional
Court's judgment of .. June 1971. The ground of arrest, namely risk of
flight, was based on the fact that on .. May 1971 the applicant stayed
away from the trial and absconded. The Regional Court held that,
judging from his flight and the sentence of imprisonment to be
expected, there was danger that he would again avoid the criminal
proceedings by absconding.

After the beginning of detention on remand on .. November 1971 the
applicant, as mentioned above, lodged an appeal concerning his
detention on .. November and, against the order dismissing his appeal,
a "further appeal" on .. December, which was rejected as inadmissible
on .. December 1971. Further, he lodged an appeal concerning his
detention on .. February 1972, which was dismissed as unfounded by the
Court of Appeal Bremen on .. March 1972; another appeal concerning his
detention, dated .. March 1972, was also held by the Court of Appeal
in its order of .. April 1972 to be unfounded.

The Court each time referred to the valid reasons stated in the warrant
of arrest.

When setting aside the first judgment on .. August 1972 the Federal
Court saw no reason to vacate the warrant of arrest under Section 126,
paragraph 3, in conjunction with Section 120 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure. According to these provisions, the court dealing with the
appeal ("Revision") may vacate the warrant of arrest when setting aside
the impugned judgment if it plainly follows from this decision that the
requisites for continued detention on remand are no longer present or
that such detention would last disproportionately long.

The applicant further appealed against his detention on .. August and,
as mentioned, on .. October 1972. The appeals were dismissed as
unfounded by the Court of Appeal Bremen on .. August and .. October
1972, respectively. The Court observed in its orders that strong
suspicion of arrest - i.e. risk of flight - continued to exist. In its
order of .. October the Court of Appeal also referred to the Federal
Court's judgment that had meanwhile been passed. The Court of Appeal
held that the setting aside of the Regional Court's first judgment on
account of a procedural error provided no reason for taking a different
view of the suspicion that the applicant had committed the deeds. In
both the orders the Appeal Court declared that the purpose of detention
on remand could not be fulfilled by less stringent measures under
Section 116 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

(c)  It follows from the above observations that the warrant of arrest
had to be sustained from .. November 1971 to .. February 1973. The
judgment of the Regional Court Bremen of .. June 1971 established the
strong suspicion in respect of the deeds that were the subject of the
conviction. Insofar the Federal Court's judgment of .. August 1972 did
not change the situation for the procedural error leading to the
setting aside of the Regional Court's judgment was not seen to lie in
the finding of the offender's guilt, but in the discussion of his
previous convictions in his absence.

The ground of detention - i.e. risk of flight - continued to exist
during this period. It was based on his staying away from the trial
before the Regional Court, his reporting to be leaving for Kenya, his
using assumed names, and, finally, his attempted flight at T. when he
was arrested. As a result of the expectation of a sentence of about
five years' imprisonment the risk of flight increased. The length of
the detention on remand was not disproportionate to the punishment that
was to be expected.

Therefore, it does not appear  that the applicant's rights were
violated by court decisions dealing with detention.

As regards the length of the proceedings reference may be made to the
observations set out above in paragraph  (1) (c). Neither the period
from .. November 1971 to .. February 1973 nor that from .. August 1972
to .. February 1973 can be regarded as disproportionately long in
respect of the applicant's detention. Detention on remand would have
been unnecessary altogether if the applicant had not absented himself
from the trial before the Regional Court and absconded. Consequently,
Article 5 (3), second half of the first sentence, of the Convention has
not been violated, either.

IV.  The relevant parts of the applicant's reply of 23 February 1974
(received on 27 February 1974) to the Regional Court's observations of
11 February 1974.

1)   It is true that I applied for a judicial preliminary examination.
But this was only because it was stated in the indictment that certain
clients who had made orders were non-existent although they in fact
resided at the address given. For the prosecution had made inadequate
enquiries. A careful investigation in fact revealed that the names
specified in the indictment actually existed.

And I was in a position to produce this evidence of the inadequate
investigation by the prosecution to the court or the registry of
obtaining certificates from the registration authorities so far as my
own orders were concerned. It should be remembered that I was in
detention when the indictment was served and was only able to make
investigations to clear myself after my release. The evidence in my
favour deposited with the registry of the Criminal Court in Bremen
could not be found at the time of the hearing (the President of the
Court said "I am not surprised that documents are missing in this
court, a lot disappears here") (Non-literal quotation). In addition I
also applied for a preliminary investigation in order that an expert
might be appointed to conduct careful enquiry into whether the orders
in question were in fact mine; I mean because the principal accused had
at the time forged my signature to certain contracts.

When the case came on for trial before the District Court on .. January
1971, I challenged the President on the grounds of bias. The reason was
that he had been a judge in the case of XXX and sentenced me to sixteen
months'imprisonment. This sentence was reduced from sixteen to ten
months on appeal. I have served these ten months and received
indictment while serving sentence. Officially appointed defence counsel
did not visit me and I was therefore unable to prepare my defence to
the proceedings and asked for a preliminary investigation.

When the District Court was about to refer the proceedings to the
Regional Court, I made an application for the proceedings against me
to be separated and continued in the lower court. This application was
refused.

This however shows clearly that I certainly did not wish to delay the
proceedings but was always guided by the desire to obtain their speedy
continuation.

For the rest I did not remain silent during the trial before the
District Court. I adopted a position on the matter (see the record of
the hearing). The Federal Government's account is incorrect!

It so happened that in the case of the principal accused B., who was
serving a number of sentences imposed under final judgments with effect
from .. January 1970, a consolidated sentence (Gesamtstrafe) would have
to be imposed. The President of the District Court knew as early as
1970 (when THE CASE was referred to the District Court) that the
conditions requiring the imposition of a consolidated sentence applied
in B.'s case and that the jurisdiction of the Regional Court was not
sufficient for this purpose. In spite of this the case was sent to the
District Court.

Further, it is indeed worthy of note that the President of the District
Court dealing with our case had himself previously sentenced B. (to
nine months for fraud on .. December 1968; to one year on .. December
1969, etc.). He was accordingly aware that B. was already serving
various sentences and that a consolidated sentence was possible. The
prosecution was also aware of the position.

Another point must be corrected:  the second indictment was admitted
by the Regional Court in my absence.

The trial before the Regional Court was held on two days in each week
(1971). On the days when there was no hearing I worked in order to
cover my essential needs. In May 1971 I was on a business trip for two
days and was unable to appear at the hearing on account of a sudden
illness. I immediately informed the court of my illness and added that
I would make myself available for the proceedings as soon as I was
better. Further, when I was able to get up I telephoned to the court
President and asked for his comprehension. It is impossible that when,
tied to my bed with a high fever, I nevertheless managed to write to
the court excusing my absence that I sent the letter without endorsing
my name and address. An acquaintance took the letter to the post for
me and rang up the Regional Court registry.

It is contrary to plain logic for an accused who wishes to escape
answering for his conduct in a criminal trial nevertheless to write to
the court asking to be excused because he is ill. I should like once
again to state very definitely that I never dreamt of attempting to
evade the criminal authorities. On the contrary:  my first interest was
and is to be rehabilitated; for it is beyond question that I have been
convicted for offenses which I have not committed.

The allegation that I was living in Lübeck or Travemünde under a false
name is not correct. I categorically deny this accusation!

I assume that the Attorney General's department in Bremen passed this
false information to the Federal Government in order to cover up their
failure in this matter.

It is true that I was arrested at T. on .. August 1971 but there can
be no question of an attempt to abscond. I categorically deny any such
imputation!

I am also not unaware that the officer in charge of the case in Bremen
may have manipulated B.'s evidence in order to sacrifice me at the
trial in January 1973. The same prosecuting officer has recently
refused me leave from detention although the necessary requirements are
satisfied. This is the result of an application for a disciplinary
enquiry.

A reply to my notice of appeal by the Attorney General's department in
Bremen dated .. February 1972 was not on me.

When the judgment was set aside by the Federal Court it was not
necessary for it to consider other grounds since the one ground was
sufficient for the purpose.

After the appeal judgment was set aside (.. August 1972) I applied to
the Regional Court to fix a date for trial as early as possible. I also
wrote to the President of the Regional Court for this purpose (see the
letter of the President of the Regional Court).

About thirty witnesses were summoned to the trial in January 1973 but
only about 25 of them were heard. The owners of only 6 of the 22
businesses involved in the case were examined. All the other -
ostensibly - injured parties were not examined with a view to better
clarifying the matter.

Furthermore, the Regional Court considered all the defence witnesses
unworthy of belief. What is more, further applications for witnesses
to be examined were refused by the court (see the record of the trial).

The judgment is based on B.'s evidence.

2)   From what has been said it follows that the proceedings were
delayed by actions on the part of the court and the prosecution. The
investigations by the prosecution proved inadequate so that the
Regional Court had to separate the cases for their better
clarification.

The second indictment scarcely affects me particularly in view of the
fact that it was in any case introduced into the trial before the
Regional Court in my absence (1971). The counts in this indictment are
outside my knowledge, i.e. I know the indictment from hearsay only.
Moreover, it did not form the subject-matter of the last trial unless
of course I was convicted on counts in the second indictment despite
the fact it was not introduced in my presence.

If it is being suggested that I delayed or obstructed the proceedings
I must categorically reject the allegation. Moreover, it is completely
illogical to believe such an allegation by the Federal Government
because the Federal Court would not have set aside the Regional Court's
judgment if the judges had believed that I deliberately remained absent
from the trial.

3)   The Bremen Court of Appeal has found that the detention on remand
commenced to run from .. August 1971 (decision of the Hanseatic Court
of Appeal, Bremen of .. April 1973).

Again the Hanseatic Court of Appeal states in its decision of ..
September 1973:

"The appellant has in fact been in detention on remand since .. August
1971".

(Ref. XXX.)

The Government's observations thus contradict the opinion of the
Hanseatic Court of Appeal in Bremen.

It must further be objected that my rights were violated in respect of
the long period of detention on remand. As early as May 1973 the doctor
of the Bremen Prison certified that I was unfit for detention on
account of liver and bowel disease. A copy was sent to the Regional
Court. There, however, it fell on deaf ears and the certificate of
unfitness for detention was ignored.

The principle of proportionality applies also to the question whether
detention on remand should be ordered at all or continued.

The allegation of a violation of Article 5 of the Convention on Human
Rights is based on the following grounds:

In my opinion I was not lawfully held in detention on remand. Firstly,
it must be assumed that I did not attempt to abscond but failed to
appear at the trial on account of illness.

a)   In my opinion there was no valid arrest warrant. The arrest
warrant is based on the Bremen Regional Court's judgment of .. June
1971. In this case, however, the judgment, which with all the findings
on which it was based was set aside by the Federal Court's judgment of
.. August 1972, was NOT valid!  In other words, a judgment which
according to a decision of the Federal Court is incorrect can provide
a sound basis for the validity and execution of a warrant; for the
general rule is that a warrant must state the facts on which it is
based, but the warrant in question merely refers to the judgment of ..
June 1971.

b)   The Regional Court's decision of .. February 1973 which "ordered
the continuance of detention on remand and should provide justification
therefor" is without any legal foundation, because the court obviously
- and incorrectly - based itself on the "incorrect grounds" (which it
purported to justify by using the word "correct") of the arrest warrant
which in turn are merely based on the judgment of .. June 1971.

For the rest the position in fact and law has changed since the first
judgment was set aside and it is not enough for the Regional Court to
refer in its decision to the grounds of a judgment which are
non-existent in order thereby to justify the continuance of the
detention on remand.

The Bremen Regional Court's decision of .. February 1973 concerning the
continuation of detention on remand must accordingly, in particular in
view of the renewed conviction, be regarded as a violation of Article
5 (and also Article 6) of the Convention on Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms; indeed the ordering of my detention (and
continued detention) for danger of absconding on .. February 1973 does
not comply with the form prescribed in paragraph 2 No. 2 of Article 112
of the Code of Criminal Procedure which is itself covered by the
Constitution and Article 5 of the Convention on Human Rights. It
follows from this that it is possible that the decisions of the
Hanseatic Court of Appeal are also without legal foundation, seeing
that the requirements of a valid warrant were not satisfied.

It may be observed that the beginning of the (alleged) time of
committing the offense stated in the warrant and also the amount of
damage with which I was charged were now no longer mentioned at the
trial or in the new version of the reasons for the judgment; to this
extent the facts in the warrant were not correct.

Insofar as the grounds of detention and suspicion are based on the
non-existent judgment of .. June 1971, the continued execution of the
detention on remand is unlawful.

4)   My unfitness for detention was brought to the knowledge of the
Regional Court by a photocopy - sent by the Prison doctor. This was in
May 1973 and was due to a liver and a bowel complaint, confirmed by the
fact that a bed was reserved in the F. hospital.

I was even refused an oral review of my detention for which I applied
on several occasions during my long detention on remand.

I here recall that I was without question and by far the prisoner with
the longest period of detention on remand in Bremen, i.e. up to ..
December 1973. The principle of proportionality is therefore
particularly significant; for this PROHIBITION OF THE UNREASONABLE
places a limit on the admissibility of otherwise permissible measures,
as expressly stated in Article 5 of the Convention on Human Rights.

It is thus obvious that my rights were violated by the court decision
on my detention.

When one considers that in May 1969 press reports appeared at the
instigation of the Bremen investigation authorities (with my name and
photograph) branding me as a swindler although no charge had been
brought, not to speak of a date for the trial fixed, it is impossible
to avoid the impression that the legal authorities in Bremen were
intentionally and deliberately riding roughshod over the principles of
law and justice. I make this charge at any rate against the
investigating authorities. The proceedings are marked by serious
defects. The investigations were not carried out with the necessary
care and expedition and the judgment is based on presumptions only.
Accordingly it may be DOUBTED whether the proceedings and the very long
detention on remand are in accordance with the rule of law.

As stated in my constitutional appeal of .. December 1973 I consider
that Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the Convention on Human Rights have been
violated.

THE LAW

I.   The applicant has first complained that the police gave
information to the press and that he was consequently branded in
newspaper articles as being a fraudulent person. However, under Article
26 (Art. 26) of the Convention, the Commission may only deal with a
matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted according to the
generally recognised rules of international law.

In the present case the applicant failed to show that he brought a
criminal action (Privatklage) or a civil action for damages against the
responsible police officer and can, therefore, not be considered to
have exhausted the remedies available to him under German law.
Moreover, an examination of the case as it has been submitted,
including an examination made ex officio does not disclose the
existence of any special circumstances which might have absolved the
applicant, according to the generally recognised rules of international
law, from exhausting the domestic remedies at his disposal.

It follows that the applicant has not complied with the condition as
the exhaustion of domestic remedies and his application must in this
respect be rejected under Article 27, paragraph (3) (Art. 27-3), of the
Convention.

II.  1) The applicant has next complained of the length of the
criminal proceedings and his detention pending his appeal.

The Commission has first considered this complaint under Article 5 (3)
(Art. 5-3) of the Convention. The period with which this provision is
concerned starts with a person's arrest and ends with the day on which
the charge levelled against him is determined by a court of first
instance (European Court of Human Rights, "Wemhoff" case, Judgment of
27 June 1968, p. 23).

The particularity of this case is that the applicant, after his arrest,
first had to serve a three months' prison sentence while his detention
on remand did not start before .. November 1971, that is after his
conviction of .. June 1971 which was later quashed by the Federal Court
on .. August 1972.

The Commission does not consider it necessary to decide whether, in
view of these circumstances, the applicant's whole period of detention
on remand falls under Article 5 (1) (a) (Art. 5-1-a) of the Convention
and can therefore - as the Government suggest - not be judged under
Article 5 (3) (Art. 5-3), or whether Article 5 (3) (Art. 5-3) is
applicable at least in regard to the period from .. August 1972 to ..
February 1973.

The Commission is assuming in the applicant's favour that the period
concerned under Article 5 (3) (Art. 5-3) lasted from .. November 1971
to .. February 1973, which would be the longest possible period running
from the beginning of the applicant's detention on remand until his
second conviction pronounced by the trial court. The Commission, even
on this assumption, does not however consider that this period was
unreasonably long taking into account the complexity of the case and
the gravity of the charges against the applicant. It is important to
note that the Federal Court had already in its decision of .. August
1972 indicated that the applicant's appeal was unfounded insofar as he
alleged that he had been wrongly convicted. The Commission could
furthermore not find that the reasons given by the German judicial
authorities, when prolonging the applicant's detention on remand, were
invalidated by the applicant's submissions.

For these reasons the Commission is of the opinion that there is no
appearance of a violation of Article 5 (3) (Art. 5-3).

2) As regards the alleged violation of Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the
Convention, the period to be taken into consideration begins, according
to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (see the
"Wemhoff", "Neumeister" and "Ringeisen" cases, judgments of 27 June
1968 and of 16 July 1971), with the date on which a person is charged
and, in determining that date, regard must be given to the particular
circumstances of the case concerned.

The Commission in resolving this problem held in previous decisions
that "the relevant stage is that at which a person concerned has been
substantially affected as a result of a suspicion against him" (see
Commission's Report in European Court of Human Rights, Series B,
"Neumeister" case, p. 81, and the Report concerning application No.
4517/70, Huber v. Austria, p. 30). In the cases just cited the
Commission has found that the interrogation of the applicant or of
witnesses alone is not sufficient to hold that the applicant is faced
with a criminal charge within the meaning of Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1)
of the Convention.

The applicant's interrogation by the police in the winter 1968 is
therefore not relevant.

The Commission is however of the opinion that the newspaper publication
of .. May 1969 branding the applicant publicly as being a fraudulent
person clearly affected his situation and must therefore be considered
as the event leading to his being charged.

The period covered by Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention ends
with the acquittal or conviction including a decision on appeal where
the appellate court pronounces upon the merits (European Court of Human
Rights, "Wemhoff" and "Neumeister" cases, already cited).

In the present case the Federal Court only pronounced upon the merits
in its second decision of .. November 1973.

In the opinion of the Commission therefore, the period to be considered
lasted from .. May 1969 to .. November 1973, being altogether roughly
four years and six months.

The question whether the length of the criminal proceedings against the
applicant exceeded the limits of a reasonable time has to be decided
in relation to the particular circumstances of the proceedings
concerned, and, in particular, with regard to:

1) the complexity of the case as a whole;
2) the manner in which the case has been handled by the national
   judicial authorities and courts; and
3) the applicant's own conduct.

In the Commission's opinion there can be no doubt that the substance
and scope of the criminal proceedings against the applicant and his
co-accused were unusually complex, difficult and voluminous taking into
account that the indictment comprised altogether more than 400 counts
of fraud and mentioned a hundred witnesses of which 45 were in fact
heard at the first trial and about 25 at the second trial.

As regards the handling of the case by the German authorities and
courts, the following main procedural stages can be distinguished:


a) the preliminary investigations from .. May 1969 when the applicant
   was charged (newspaper publication) to .. March 1970 (filing of the
   indictment) = 10 months;
b) .. March 1970 to .. June 1971 = nearly 15 months, when the first
   trial court's decision was given;
c) .. June 1971 to .. August 1972 = 14 months - first appeal
   proceedings;
d) .. August 1972 to .. February 1973 = 6 months - second trial
   proceedings;
e) .. February 1973 to .. November 1973 = 9 months - second appeal
   proceedings.

The Commission considers that the period a) was, in view of the number
of fraud cases, not unusually long and there are no special
circumstances indicating that the proceedings were at this stage unduly
delayed.

As regards period b) the Government admits that a certain delay (about
4 months) was caused in that the trial was, contrary to the request of
the Public Prosecutor, started before the District Court which later
remanded the case to the Regional Court because it (the District Court)
was not competent to impose a sentence higher than three years'
imprisonment.

Otherwise there are again no circumstances indicating that the
proceedings were unduly delayed.

As regards period c) the Commission notes that the drafting of the
trial court's decision took nearly four months, a copy of the judgment
having been communicated to the applicant on .. October 1971. It is
however to be noted that the decision comprised 218 pages.

There are, in the opinion of the Commission, therefore, again no
circumstances indicating that the proceedings were unduly delayed. The
same reasoning applies, in the opinion of the Commission, to periods
d) and e).

The applicant's own conduct did not contribute considerably to the
length of the proceedings against him. His request of .. April 1970 for
preliminary court investigations was rejected on appeal on .. June 1970
and thus caused a delay of not even two months. Besides it was the
applicant's procedural right to make such a request.

His unexcused failure to attend the trial necessitated holding the
trial again but it cannot, however, be imputed to the applicant that
through his absence he induced the trial court to violate procedural
law.

On .. November 1971 the applicant requested his release. This request
was definitely rejected on .. December 1971 causing a delay of not even
one month.

Similarly a petition (Eingabe) made on .. September 1972 was disposed
of on .. October 1972 and thus only caused an insignificant delay.

Taken together it has however to be noted that it took the authorities
and courts about four months to dispose of appeals lodged by the
applicant which were - at least judged retrospectively - unnecessary
and apparently offered no prospects of success from the beginning.

Having thus considered all the elements in the case which appeared to
be material, the Commission concludes that the total period taken to
determine the criminal charges against the applicant was not
unreasonable. In this context it is again to be noted that the Federal
Court in its first decision of .. August 1972 already indicated that
the applicant's complaints as to the merits of the case were unfounded.
This means that although for formal reasons the trial had to be
repeated and the applicant consequently had another possibility of an
appeal, albeit knowing that it would in any event be unsuccessful, the
charges against the applicant were in fact determined on .. August
1972.

For these reasons the Commission finds that there is no appearance of
a violation of Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention. It follows
that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the
meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2) (Art. 27-2), of the Convention.

III. The applicant has finally complained that he was wrongly
convicted and sentenced.

With regard to the judicial decisions of which the applicant complains,
the Commission recalls that, in accordance with Article 19 (Art. 19)
of the Convention, its only task is to ensure the observance of he
obligations undertaken by the Parties in the Convention. In particular,
it is not competent to deal with an application alleging that errors
of law or fact have been committed by domestic courts, except where it
considers that such errors might have involved a possible violation of
any of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention. The
Commission refers, on this point, to its constant jurisprudence (see
e.g. decisions on the admissibility of applications No. 458/59,
Yearbook, Vol. 3, pp. 222, 232 and No. 1140/61, Collection of
Decisions, Vol. 8, pp. 57, 62).

In this particular case an examination of the complaint, including an
examination made ex officio, does not disclose any appearance of a
violation of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention. It
follows that this part of the application is also manifestly
ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2)
(Art. 27-2), of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Commission DECLARES THIS APPLICATION
INADMISSIBLE