FIRST SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 47579/99 
by Hristo Peshev RAICHINOV 
against Bulgaria

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 1 February 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President
 Mrs F. Tulkens
 Mr P. Lorenzen
 Mrs N. Vajić
 Mrs S. Botoucharova, 
 Mr A. Kovler, 
 Mr K. Hajiyev, judges
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 8 January 1999,

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

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Hristo Peshev Raichinov, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1935 and lives in Sofia. He is represented before the Court by Ms I. Lulcheva and Ms Y. Vandova, lawyers practising in Sofia. The respondent Government are represented by Ms M. Pasheva, co-agent, of the Ministry of Justice.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

At the relevant time the applicant was head of the Ministry of Justice's division responsible for the financial and logistical support for the judicial system. In his capacity he sometimes attended meetings of the Supreme Judicial Council – the body responsible for, inter alia, implementing the judicial budget. The Supreme Judicial Council has twenty-five members, including the chairpersons of the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court and the Prosecutor-General. Its meetings are presided by the Minister of Justice.

The Supreme Judicial Council had a meeting on 15 December 1993, at which the issue of an end-year bonus for judges, prosecutors, and investigators was discussed. The applicant attended the meeting, as he usually did in cases when budgetary matters were considered. The Deputy Prosecutor-General, Mr S., who was a member of the Council, was also present.

At some point during the meeting, after commenting the provisions of the State Budget Act, the applicant said: “You have decided to have financial matters dealt with by Mr S. For me he is not a clean person...”. He then added: “I can prove this”. The Prosecutor-General reacted vehemently, asking the applicant to leave the room. The applicant tried to continue but was interrupted by Mr S. who asked him to clarify what he meant by “unclean person”. The Minister of Justice intervened and requested the applicant to retract the words “unclean person”. The Prosecutor-General reacted immediately: “There is no retraction, there are prosecution authorities. This is already a problem, this is already a crime”. The Minister insisted on the applicant apologising for the words “unclean person”. Thereupon the applicant said: “Alright, I apologise”. Because of the tense situation all financial matters which were due to be discussed at the meeting were adjourned.

Immediately after the meeting the Prosecutor-General requested a copy of the minutes. He received it on 27 December 1993 and on 12 January 1994 sent it to the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office with instructions to carry out a preliminary inquiry with a view to opening criminal proceedings against the applicant. On 11 February 1994 the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office transmitted the case file to the Sofia District Prosecutor's Office with instructions to open criminal proceedings against the applicant for insult. The investigation was to be performed not by an investigator, as would usually be the case, but by a prosecutor.

On 16 February 1994 the Sofia District Prosecutor's Office instituted criminal proceedings against the applicant for “having said publicly 'for me he is not a clean person' in respect of [Mr S.] in his presence ... which was degrading for the latter's dignity”, contrary to Article 148 § 1 (1), (3) and (4) in conjunction with Article 146 § 1 of the Criminal Code.

On 20 April 1994 the applicant was charged.

The investigation was concluded on 16 June 1994 and the applicant and his counsel were allowed to consult the case file. After having done so, counsel for the applicant requested that all members of the Supreme Judicial Council who had been present at the meeting be questioned and that an expert report be prepared to compare the audio tape of the meeting with the written minutes. The prosecutor in charge of the investigation refused, reasoning that the facts of the case had been elucidated by the evidence already gathered, which supported the accusation.

The applicant was indicted. The trial against him took place on 11 April 1995 at the Sofia District Court. The court heard two witnesses: the alleged victim of the insult, Mr S., and another member of the Supreme Judicial Council. Mr S. stated that it was difficult for him to say whether the applicant's remark had changed the Supreme Judicial Council's opinion of him. The other witness stated that sometimes the discussions in the Council were quite heated but that no one had ever used such words or made such remarks. Three other witnesses called by the prosecution failed to show up and the court struck them out of the evidence, holding that the circumstances of the case had been sufficiently elucidated through the testimony of the witnesses who had been questioned and through the written evidence. Counsel for the applicant did not reiterate the request that all members of the Council be summoned as witnesses, instead stating that the facts had been fully clarified.

After that the court heard the parties' closing argument. Counsel for the applicant pleaded for a verdict of not guilty, relying, inter alia, on Article 10 of the Convention. She argued that the words “for me he is not a clean person” were only an expression of the applicant's personal opinion about Mr S. The applicant's words were objectively not rude, vulgar or insulting. He had simply exercised his right to voice what he thought about another person, in purely neutral terms. To equate this with an insult would mean that only those who had a favourable opinion of Mr S. would be allowed to express it. In her view, the entire case had been sparked by the Prosecutor-General's vindictiveness.

In a judgment of 12 April 1995 the Sofia District Court found the applicant guilty as charged and sentenced him to a fine of 3,000 old Bulgarian levs (BGL) and to a public reprimand. The court held as follows:

“The actus reus consisted of uttering words which were humiliating and disparaging for [Mr S.] in his presence. It is not disputed ... that the accused ... said in respect of [Mr S.] 'For me he is not a clean person'. The expression has an insulting character, because it dishonours [Mr S.]. It contains a disproval of his ethical and moral qualities, which is irreconcilable with his functions as a person disposing with budgetary funds. In this fashion the personality of [Mr S.] and his authority in front of the other members of the [Supreme Judicial Council] were encroached upon. 'Not a clean person' has only one interpretation, that the person concerned has a tainted consciousness and lacks morality. Even if this is the [applicant's] personal opinion about the qualities of [Mr S.], the remark was aimed at affecting the honour and the dignity of [Mr S.]. Criticism ..., especially when it comes to the public manifestations of persons who represent state institutions, has to be consistent with the rules of society, ethics and the common rules of decency and morality. These must not be trampled on under the pretence that the personal opinion about another is a matter of perception and [represents the exercise] of the constitutional right to freedom of expression... It is unconstitutional and criminal to criticise in an insulting form, as in the case at hand...

The offence was intentional... It was committed in public, in front of twenty-five members of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Deputy-Minister of Justice. This increases the gravity of the offence, because the offensive words were heard not only by the victim, but also by a large group of persons...

The fact that the [applicant] apologised to the victim after being invited to do so by the [Minister of Justice] does not remove the criminal character of his act or its harmful consequences. By uttering words which were humiliating for the victim, [the applicant] completed the offence and the harmful consequences arose. The derogation of the victim's reputation was irreversible. The fact [that the applicant apologised] must, however, be taken into consideration for the purpose of assessing the gravity of the offence ... and for the purpose of sentencing.

The defence's argument that the [applicant's] act was not criminal because it was in fact the expression of a personal criticism by a person exercising his freedom of expression ... cannot be sustained. The right to freedom of expression carries the duty, set out in Article 39 § 2 of the Constitution, not to exercise this right to the detriment of the reputation of another. The present case represents an abuse of this right, because the personal disproval of [Mr S.] which the [applicant] expressed publicly had a humiliating content. The negative opinion was expressed indecently, in an insulting and humiliating manner, which is contrary to the law. This implies that the [statement] was contrary to both Article 146 of the Criminal Code and Article 39 of the Constitution and Article 10 of the European Convention for Human Rights ..., which enshrine the right to freedom of expression, but in the bounds of decency, respect for the rights of every member of society, tolerance and respect for the reputation of the others...”

The applicant appealed to the Sofia City Court. His counsel again argued that the applicant's remark had not been couched in offensive terms, that he had expressed his personal views in an entirely acceptable way and that a penalty imposed on him for having voiced an opinion ran counter to his freedom of expression.

The prosecution appealed as well, requesting an increase of the applicant's sentence.

The Sofia City Court held a hearing on 27 November 1995.

In a judgment of 23 January 1996 the Sofia City Court dismissed the applicant's and the prosecution's appeals. It held, inter alia, as follows:

“The [court below] correctly concluded that the [applicant's] words had an insulting content. The expression was examined by the district court in accordance with the meaning which was put in it – a disproval of the ethical and moral qualities of [Mr S.], which was incompatible with his function as a person disposing with budgetary funds; a disproval aiming to impinge on the victim's personal dignity. The [words] were analysed by the first-instance court in view of their objective potential to impinge on the dignity of the victim, because they exceeded the bounds of ethical communication and the generally accepted rules of decency.

The defence's arguments ... that the [words] in issue were in fact the [applicant's] personal opinion, the expression of which is protected by the rule of Article 39 of the Constitution, are unfounded. The district court was correct in concluding that the expression of a personal opinion about someone, even though a constitutionally protected right, should not exceed the bounds set out in paragraph 2 of [Article 39 of the Constitution]. In other words, the right to freely express one's opinion may not be used to infringe the rights and reputation of another...

In its reasoning the district court examined all arguments of the defence, relying on the courts' constant case-law under the Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights. ...”

On 2 April 1998 the applicant lodged a petition for review with the Supreme Court of Cassation, claiming that the lower courts' judgments were unfounded and in breach of the law.

On 27 April 1998 the Supreme Court of Cassation accepted the petition for examination and listed the case for hearing.

The court held a hearing on 10 June 1998. It heard the parties' argument and reserved judgment. Prior to the hearing the applicant's defence presented written observations, in which it argued that the lower courts' judgments were unfounded and unlawful. In particular, the courts' holding that the applicant's words were offensive was arbitrary. On the opposite, they were not rude, vulgar or cynical, but completely neutral. The defence also reiterated its submissions in respect of the applicant's right to voice personal opinions.

The Supreme Court of Cassation delivered its judgment on 8 July 1998, dismissing the petition for review. The court held as follows:

“[The words] used by [the applicant] in the presence of [Mr S.] were humiliating and it cannot be accepted that this was in line with the rule of Article 39 of the Constitution, which guarantees to all Bulgarian citizens the possibility to express their personal opinion and criticise other persons. This possibility is subject to and dependent on the limitations of paragraph 2 [of this Article], according to which this right should not be used for impinging on the reputation of another. In the case at hand there has been an abuse of the right under paragraph 1 [of this Article], because the personal opinion, expressed by [the applicant] in respect of [Mr S.] has a disparaging content. The negative opinion is expressed in an indecent, insulting and humiliating manner... As such it falls under the prohibition of Articles 148 [and] 146 of the Criminal Code, because it not only goes against Article 39 § 1 of the Constitution, but also against Article 10 of the European Convention for Human Rights ... which enshrine the right to freedom of expression, but within the bounds of decency, respect for the rights of the person, tolerance, and protection of the reputation of the others. These rules are valid in all civilised and democratic societies.

It is unconstitutional and criminally liable to 'criticise' in an insulting manner, as has been done in the case at hand. The words which were used had an insulting content, because they debased the victim's dignity and his authority before the other members of the [Supreme Judicial] Council. They contained a disproval of his moral and ethical qualities which is incompatible with his function as a person disposing with budgetary funds. What was said could be interpreted in one manner only: that the person in question has a tainted consciousness and lacks morality; it was aimed at impinging the honour and dignity of [Mr S.]. ...”

It is unclear whether the applicant in fact paid the fine. He was not publicly reprimanded and on 23 March 1999 a prosecutor of the Sofia District Prosecutor's Office ordered that his sentence was not to be enforced because the relevant limitation period had expired.

B.  Relevant domestic law

1.  The Constitution

Article 39

“1.  Everyone is entitled to express an opinion or to publicise it through words, written or oral, sound, or image, or in any other way.

2.  This right shall not be used to the detriment of the rights and reputation of others, or for the incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally established order, the perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of enmity or violence against anyone.”

2.  The Criminal Code

Article 146 § 1 of the Criminal Code, as in force at the relevant time, provided:

“Whoever says or does something degrading for the honour or the dignity of another in his presence shall be punished for insult by up to six months' imprisonment or a fine of up to three thousand levs. The court may also impose a public reprimand.”

If an insult has been made in public, or against an official in the performance of his duties, or by an official in the performance of his duties, it was punishable by up to two years' imprisonment or a fine of up to BGL 5,000 (Article 148 § 1(1), (3), and (4) of the Code).

3.  The Code of Criminal Procedure

Prior to the reform of 1 April 1998 Bulgarian criminal procedure provided for three levels of jurisdiction: trial, appellate and review. Judgments delivered on appeal were final, but subject to review by the Supreme Court (former Article 349 § 1 (3) of the Code). In review proceedings, which were instituted pursuant to a petition by the accused or a “protest” by the Chief Prosecutor (former Article 350 of the Code), the Supreme Court could quash the lower courts' judgments and decide the case on the merits or remit it (former Article 357 § 1 of the Code).

After the reform, which was effected through the Act for the Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure of February 1998 (effective 1 April 1998), criminal procedure provides for three levels of jurisdiction: trial, appellate and cassation.

By paragraph 37(2) of the transitional and concluding provisions of the Act for the Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure of February 1998, first-instance judgments which had entered into force before the entry into force of the Act could be reviewed by the Supreme Court of Cassation pursuant to petitions for review submitted within six months after their entry into force. Second-instance judgments were also reviewable if the petitions for their review had been submitted within three months after their delivery (paragraph 37(1) of the transitional and concluding provisions of the Act).

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complained under Article 10 of the Convention that he had been convicted for having expressed, in purely neutral terms, his personal opinion about the Deputy Prosecutor-General.

2.  The applicant complained under Article 7 of the Convention that the domestic courts' holding that his words were insulting was the result of an impermissibly extensive construction of the applicable law. He was thus convicted of an act which did not constitute a criminal offence under domestic law.

3.  The applicant complained under Article 6 § 3 (d) of the Convention that during the investigation the prosecutor had denied his request to call all members of the Supreme Judicial Council as witnesses and to order an expert report to compare the audio tape of the Council's meeting with the written minutes, with the motive that the available evidence supported the accusation.

THE LAW

1.  The Government raised an objection, claiming that the application had been lodged outside the six-months' time-limit laid down in Article 35 § 1 of the Convention. They submitted that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Cassation should not be taken into account for the purposes of calculating the running of the six-months' time-limit. According to them, that court had delivered an inadmissible judgment pursuant to a petition which had not been capable of instituting review proceedings, because it had been lodged out of time. Instead of declaring the petition inadmissible, that court had erroneously listed the case for hearing and had decided it on the merits. The judgment whose review was requested had entered into force on 23 January 1996 and therefore paragraph 37 of the transitional and concluding provisions of the Act for the Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure of February 1998 was inapplicable to it. It could only apply if the petition for review had been lodged within three months after the delivery of the judgment or within six months after its entry into force. It was obvious that the petition for review had been lodged by the applicant solely with a view to interrupting the running of the six-months' time-limit under Article 35 § 1 of the Convention. That period had actually started to run on 23 January 1996; therefore the application had been lodged out of time.

The applicant replied that before the amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure on 1 April 1998 the possibility to lodge a petition for review with the Supreme Court had not been limited in time. It was unacceptable to retrospectively deny convicted persons the right to lodge such petitions through amendments of the procedural rules. It was exactly with a view to preventing this from occurring that the Act for the Amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure of February 1998 had provided for a six-months' time-limit after its entry into force during which convicted persons could lodge petitions for review with the Supreme Court of Cassation. The applicant had not been the only one who had availed himself of this right; the Supreme Court of Cassation had reviewed a number of judgments which had entered into force more than six months before the entry into force of the amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In addition, the applicant submitted that it was inadmissible for the Government to challenge a judgment of the Supreme Court of Cassation which was binding upon all, including them. The issue whether the applicant's petition for review had been timely had already been resolved and could not be re-examined in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights.

The Court starts by noting that review proceedings before the former Supreme Court were not extraordinary proceedings, but a part of the normal three-instance proceedings (see, mutatis mutandis, Petrov v. Bulgaria, no. 24140/94, Commission decision of 22 February 1995, unreported, and Marintchev v. Bulgaria (dec.), no. 43232/98, 8 July 2003). They were therefore an effective remedy which in principle needed to be exhausted for the purposes of Article 35 § 1 of the Convention.

The Court further notes that the parties are in dispute as to whether the review proceedings before the Supreme Court of Cassation in the present case were properly instituted and as to whether that court had jurisdiction to examine the applicant's petition for review on the merits and deliver a judgment pursuant to it. However, the Court does not consider that it has to address this question of Bulgarian law. It merely notes that that court did not consider that the applicant's petition had been lodged out of time, in fact proceeded to examine it on the merits and, moreover, gave judgment as a court of last instance. The fact that the petition was declared ill-founded on the ground that the lower courts had properly established the facts of the case and had correctly applied the law takes nothing away from that finding. It suffices to note that by lodging a petition with the Supreme Court of Cassation the applicant set in motion a procedure which, in the present case, proved to be effective (see, mutatis mutandis, Öztürk v. Turkey [GC], no. 22479/93, §§ 45 and 46, ECHR 1999-VI). The six months' period therefore began to run on 8 July 1998, the date of the Supreme Court of Cassation's judgment.

As the applicant lodged his application in good time, the Government's objection must be dismissed.

2.  In respect of his complaint that he was convicted for having expressed his personal opinion about the Deputy Prosecutor-General the applicant relied on Article 10 of the Convention, which provides, as relevant:

“1.  Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. ...

2.  The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

The Government submitted that the applicable domestic law was formulated with sufficient precision to allow the persons concerned to foresee the consequences of their actions. The clear definition of the offence was a guarantee against arbitrary encroachment by the authorities upon the citizens' freedom of expression.

The interference had also pursued a legitimate aim, namely to protect the rights and reputation of others.

The interference had also been necessary. It was beyond doubt that the reputation and dignity of a high-ranking magistrate were subject to enhanced protection. Mr S.'s election as a judge in the Constitutional Court was proof of his high moral and professional qualities. It was true that the applicant's words represented his personal opinion, but this opinion had unjustifiably infringed the reputation of a member of the Supreme Judicial Council who had been entrusted with dealing with the budget of the judiciary. The suggestion contained in the applicant's words could thus undermine the trust in the judiciary as a whole.

Having diligently examined the arguments raised by the applicant's defence, the domestic courts had struck a proper balance between Mr S.'s reputation and the applicant's freedom of expression. The courts had reviewed all relevant circumstances and had delivered carefully considered judgments. The balance was also apparent from the punishment imposed on the applicant: while the courts could sentence him to imprisonment, they had opted for the lesser penalty – a fine and a public reprimand. Moreover, these punishments had not been enforced.

Article 39 of the Bulgarian Constitution and Article 10 of the Convention enshrined the right to freedom of expression. However, that right was not absolute. It could be interfered with for the protection of the reputation and rights of others. Imposing criminal liability for insult was proportionate to the character of the protected value. The level of limitation of the freedom of expression was dependent of the importance of the value.

The applicant submitted that he had expressed his personal opinion about Mr S. According to Bulgarian law, expressing a personal opinion in a decent manner was not an offence. His personal opinion apparently differed from the views of the Government. He further submitted that evidently, according to the Government, the expression of a negative opinion was not only undesirable, but also criminal.

At the time when the applicant had expressed his opinion about Mr S. the latter had been Deputy Prosecutor-General. It had been years later that he had been elected as president of the Supreme Administrative Court and member of the Constitutional Court. In any event, the mere fact that a person had a special status was not sufficient to warrant special treatment.

The Court had many times ruled that the exceptions to freedom of expression had to be narrowly interpreted and the necessity for any restrictions had to be convincingly established. On the other hand, the restrictions under paragraph 2 of Article 10 of the Convention should not be used to restrict the possibility to express one's personal opinion.

The applicant had expressed his opinion before the Supreme Judicial Council, which was a body having solely staffing and organisational duties and not judicial ones. It was thus farfetched to argue that by expressing his opinion before it the applicant had infringed the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. This restriction derived from the common law concept of contempt of court. The applicant's situation was obviously materially different. Moreover, this motive – maintaining the authority of the judiciary – could not be used as grounds for restraining criticism of a prosecutor.

Finally, the applicant submitted that the Government's argument that his words implied that Mr S. lacked morality and could thus undermine the trust in the judiciary as a whole could not be accepted. The Bulgarian Supreme Court's case-law was constant on the point that making implications could not carry criminal responsibility.

The Court considers, in the light of the parties' submissions, that the complaint raises serious issues of fact and law under the Convention, the determination of which requires an examination of the merits. The Court concludes therefore that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. No other ground for declaring it inadmissible has been established.

3.  In respect of his complaint that was convicted of an act which did not constitute a criminal offence under domestic law the applicant relied on Article 7 § 1 of the Convention, which provides, as relevant:

“No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed. ...”

The Government did not comment on this complaint.

The applicant did not comment either.

The Court recalls that it is not its task to deal with errors of fact or law allegedly committed by a national court unless and in so far as they may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention (see Streletz, Kessler and Krenz v. Germany [GC], nos. 34044/96, 35532/97 and 44801/98, § 49, ECHR 2001-II, and Kyriakides v. Cyprus (dec.), no. 53059/99, 11 December 2001). Therefore, insofar as the applicant challenges the domestic courts' finding that his words were insulting within the meaning of domestic law, his complaint cannot be entertained.

The other issue before the Court is whether, from the standpoint of Article 7 § 1, the applicant's act constituted an offence defined with sufficient foreseeability by domestic law. This requirement is satisfied where the individual can know from the wording of the relevant provision and, if need be, with the assistance of the courts' interpretation of it and appropriate legal advice, what acts or omissions will make him criminally liable (see Streletz, Kessler and Krenz, cited above, §§ 50 and 51).

The Court notes that the applicant's conviction was based on Article 148 in conjunction with Article 146 of the Criminal Code. While Article 146 § 1, which defines the offence of insult, is inevitably couched in somewhat general terms, it cannot be regarded as vague and imprecise to the point of becoming unforeseeable as to its meaning and effects. The Court thus finds no basis on which to hold that the applicant's act did not constitute an offence defined with sufficient precision in Bulgarian law.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

4.  In respect of his complaint that during the investigation the prosecutor denied his request to call other members of the Supreme Judicial Council to testify and to order an expert report to compare the audio tape of the Council's meeting with the written minutes the applicant relied on Article 6 § 3 (d) of the Convention, which provides:

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

(d)  to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;”

The Government did not comment on this complaint.

The applicant did not comment either.

The Court recalls that the refusal of an investigator to call and question a witness requested by the defence does not give rise to an issue under Article 6 § 3 (d) if the witness may be called later, at the trial (see Schertenleib v. Switzerland, no. 8339/78, Commission decision of 12 July 1979, Decisions and Reports 17, p. 180, at p. 225). It notes that in the present case the applicant's counsel requested that all members of the Supreme Judicial Council be questioned during the preliminary investigation, but did not reiterate that request during the trial. It is not disputed that the applicant's counsel could have done so and that the Sofia District Court had the power to call these persons as witnesses if it considered that their testimony was relevant and necessary for establishing the facts of the case.

Likewise, it does not appear that counsel for the applicant reiterated before the Sofia District Court her request for an expert report, which the court could have ordered if it deemed it needed.

It follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares admissible, without prejudging the merits, the applicant's complaint under Article 10 of the Convention that his freedom of expression was infringed in that he was convicted for having expressed his personal opinion about the Deputy Prosecutor-General;

Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.

Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis 
 Registrar President

RAICHINOV v. BULGARIA DECISION


RAICHINOV v. BULGARIA DECISION