AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 51343/99
by Anguel Filipov ANGUELOV
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 1 September 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr C.L. Rozakis, President,
Mr P. Lorenzen,
Mrs N. Vajić,
Mrs S. Botoucharova,
Mr A. Kovler,
Mr K. Hajiyev,
Mr D. Spielmann, judges,
and Mr S. Nielsen, Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 2 June 1999,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the applicant,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Anguel Filipov Anguelov, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1958 and lives in Plovdiv. He is represented before the Court by Mr M. Ekimdjiev, a lawyer practising in Plovdiv.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 27 July 1993 the applicant, who was a taxi driver, hit a pedestrian with his car. The applicant brought the victim to the nearest hospital, where he died several days later despite the efforts of the medical doctors.
On 20 October 1993 the applicant was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
On an unspecified date in the beginning of 1994, after the completion of the investigation, an indictment was submitted to the Plovdiv Regional Court. The relatives of the victim joined the proceedings as civil plaintiffs.
After a hearing, on 18 March 1994 the court convicted the applicant and sentenced him to one year imprisonment, suspended. The court also ordered the suspension of the applicant’s driving licence for two years and ordered him to pay damages to the relatives of the victim.
Upon the applicant’s appeal, on 10 June 1994 the Supreme Court quashed the lower court’s judgment and referred the case back for re-examination at the investigation stage, instructing the competent authorities to commission a new expert report in order to clarify certain additional facts.
The renewed investigation lasted until 5 December 1995 when a fresh indictment was submitted to the Plovdiv Regional Court.
By judgment of 3 June 1997 the Regional Court convicted the applicant and sentenced him to one year imprisonment, suspended. The court also ordered the suspension of the applicant’s driving licence for one year.
On 10 June 1997 the applicant appealed to the Supreme Court of Cassation.
On 14 November 1997 the Supreme Court of Cassation, acting as a court of appeal in a chamber of three judges, dismissed the appeal.
In accordance with section 37 § 2 of the transitory provisions to the Act amending the Criminal Code with effect as from 1 April 1998, the time-limit for submission of a petition for review (cassation) against judgments delivered prior to the amendments’ entry into force was six months from the date on which the judgment had become enforceable. In the applicant’s case the relevant time-limit expired on 14 May 1998.
On 6 May 1998 the applicant submitted a petition for review (cassation), which would have fallen to be examined by a five-member chamber of the Supreme Court of Cassation in the transitional period following the 1998 legislative amendments. In accordance with the relevant rules and practice, the petition was deposited with the Plovdiv Regional Court.
On an unspecified date the Plovdiv Regional Court transmitted the petition and the case file to the Supreme Court of Cassation.
On 24 March 1999 a judge of the Supreme Court of Cassation rejected as time-barred the petition for review (cassation) and ordered the return of the case file back to the Regional Court. The decision was made on a standard form which stated that the petition for review had been rejected as time-barred, without mentioning the relevant dates. The name of the judge who made the decision was not indicated.
According to the applicant, the judge might have taken into account the date on which the petition for review had been transmitted from the Plovdiv Regional Court to the Supreme Court of Cassation and not the date on which it had been submitted by the applicant to the Plovdiv Regional Court.
The applicant complained that he had been arbitrarily denied access to the review (cassation) proceedings before the Supreme Court of Cassation and that he did not have an effective remedy in this respect. He relied on Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention.
The applicant also complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the criminal proceedings against him had been unreasonably lengthy.
1. The applicant complained that he had been denied access to the review (cassation) proceedings and that he did not have an effective remedy in respect of that denial.
The Government did not reply within the time-limit set for that purpose. The applicant reiterated his complaints. He also stated that the decision of 24 March 1999 rejecting his petition for review (cassation) had not been amenable to appeal as it had been issued in proceedings before a five-member chamber of the Supreme Court of Cassation, whose decisions had not been subject to appeal at the relevant time.
The Court considers that the above complaints fall to be examined under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention. It notes that they raise serious issues of fact and law under the Convention, the determination of which requires an examination of the merits. The Court concludes therefore that the complaints are not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. No other ground for declaring them inadmissible has been established.
2. The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the criminal proceedings against him had been excessively lengthy.
The Government did not reply within the time-limit set for that purpose. The applicant reiterated his complaints. He also stated that the proceedings had not been legally or factually complex and that following the judgment of 10 June 1994 the prosecuting authorities had spent a year and half on the case despite the fact that their only task had been to commission a fresh expert report. Furthermore, the second trial had also been excessively lengthy – a year and a half.
The Court considers, in the light of the criteria established by its case-law on the question of “reasonable time”, and having regard to all the material in its possession, that an examination of the merits of the complaint is required.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Declares the application admissible, without prejudging the merits of the case.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis
ANGUELOV v. BULGARIA DECISION
ANGUELOV v. BULGARIA DECISION