THIRD SECTION

PARTIAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 52479/99 
by Andrzej RYBACKI 
against Poland

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 9 November 2004 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr B.M. Zupančič, President
 Mr J. Hedigan
 Mr L. Caflisch, 
 Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska
 Mr L. Garlicki
 Mr E. Myjer, 
 Mr David Thór Björgvinsson, judges
and  Mr  V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 31 December 1998,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Andrzej Rybacki, is a Polish national, who was born in 1967 and lives in Włocławek.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

The applicant was arrested by the police on 8 May 1996. He was suspected of having been involved in a robbery committed on 23 April 1995. On 9 May 1996 the District Prosecutor for Wrocław-Fabryczna issued a detention order against him on charges of aggravated robbery, involving a firearm, and committed in conspiracy with other persons. The Prosecutor referred to a reasonable suspicion, based on witnesses' testimony, and the existing risk that the applicant could hide or exercise pressure on the witnesses. Detention was imposed until 8 August 1996.

The applicant was detained on the same date as two other accused persons (S.C. and J.P.). Yet another person (K.G.) was detained on 23 August 1996. The investigation and subsequent court proceedings were conducted against five persons jointly, four of them detained and one at liberty.

On 10 May 1996 the applicant's defence counsel filed an appeal against the detention order. He challenged the credibility of the evidence in the applicant's case, stating that it had been obtained illegally. In particular, he argued that the manner in which the applicant had been presented in an identification parade had not complied with the procedural guarantees. He also requested that a new identification parade be conducted. This motion was dismissed on 13 May 1996. On 27 May 1996 the Wrocław Regional Court dismissed the appeal against the detention order.

On 17 May 1996 the Prosecutor issued a decision whereby he reserved to himself the right to be present whenever the applicant saw his defence counsel. The applicant's counsel repeatedly complained that such a restriction impaired the applicant's defence rights and made it impossible for the defence to agree upon a defence strategy. He requested that the decision be quashed. The decision was upheld on 4 July 1996 and again on 10 July 1996. The applicant's further appeal was dismissed by the Wrocław Regional Court on 15 July 1996. The court found that the applicant's contacts with the defence counsel were not limited and the presence of the prosecutor did not affect the applicant's defence rights at that stage. The court further stated that the defence strategy could also be discussed in accordance with law in the presence of a person appointed by the prosecutor.

On 1 August 1996 the Wrocław Regional Court, upon the motion of the District Prosecutor, decided to prolong the applicant's detention until 31 October 1996. The Regional Court found that a reasonable suspicion existed that the applicant had actually committed the offence he was charged with, and that the offence presented a particularly high danger to society. Therefore, the necessity of ensuring a proper course of investigation justified the detention. The Regional Court further referred to the necessity of obtaining experts' reports on certain items of material evidence. It appears that on the same date the court prolonged the detention of two other co-accused persons, S.C. and J.P.

On 9 August 1996 the applicant's defence counsel appealed against the decision prolonging the applicant's detention. In particular, he argued that the evidence in the case did not substantiate the suspicion that the applicant had committed the offence at issue. He further argued that the expert reports referred to in the decision should have been obtained already by that date, within three months from the date the investigation was instituted. No other procedural steps were needed or scheduled. The applicant's defence counsel also referred to a number of other procedural shortcomings allegedly impairing the applicant's defence rights. He again challenged the manner in which the evidence had been obtained. On 22 August 1996 the Wrocław Court of Appeal examined the appeals of all the co-accused persons against the prolongation of their detention and dismissed them. The Court of Appeal found that, although the evidence against all accused persons was to a large extent circumstantial, it sufficiently substantiated the “reasonable suspicion” that they had committed the offence at issue and, therefore, justified the detention.

On 24 October 1996 the Wrocław Court of Appeal again prolonged the applicant's detention until 31 December 1996. The Court of Appeal referred to the persistence of a “reasonable suspicion” and the necessity to ensure the proper course of the investigation. In the Court of Appeal's view, the seriousness of the charges against the applicant substantiated an actual risk that he might “undertake mendacious actions aimed at obstructing the investigation”.  Moreover, the Court of Appeal pointed out the necessity of additional expertise, in particular with regard to fingerprints and mechanoscopy.

On an unspecified date in November or December 1996 the investigation was completed. Having consulted the case files, the applicant's defence counsel requested the Public Prosecutor to allow him to consult the case files a second time as there were at least nine volumes by that time. By a letter of 13 December the Public Prosecutor replied that “allowing this motion at the current stage of investigation is not possible”, without stating any specific reasons. On 23 December 1996 the Public Prosecutor filed a bill of indictment against the applicant and his co-accused with the Wrocław Regional Court.

The first hearing in the case was held on 21 March 1997. On 23 July 1997 the applicant's defence counsel requested the Wrocław Regional Court to release the applicant from detention and apply less severe preventive measure. He argued that the applicant's detention had lasted almost 15 months and that there was no indication that the applicant would obstruct the proceedings if released. In his opinion, such a lengthy detention had become a measure of punitive rather than preventive character. On 7 August 1997 the Wrocław Regional Court dismissed the motion. The Court referred to a persistent reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed the offence he was charged with. It further pointed out that the severe penalty that could be inflicted upon the applicant justified the fear that he might go into hiding or otherwise obstruct the proceedings.

On unspecified dates in March and April 1998 the court and the prosecutor heard two anonymous witnesses designated by the symbols: T05/96 and T 41/96. Neither the applicant nor his defence counsel was entitled to take part in the questioning. Subsequently, they were given access to the minutes and they could put forward their questions in writing. However, parts of the anonymous witnesses' testimony were not revealed to the defence.

On 16 April 1998 the Wrocław Regional Court decided to request the Supreme Court to prolong the applicant's detention which was about to exceed two years. The Regional Court, when motivating the request, submitted that “the evidence collected against the accused - in particular the testimony of anonymous witnesses - substantiated the suspicion that the applicant had committed the crime of aggravated robbery which as such [the crime] represented an extremely high danger to society. The proceedings before the first instance court were at their final stage and - unless any unpredictable circumstances would appear - they should soon be terminated. The Regional Court already heard all witnesses for prosecution and the majority of defence witnesses ... . The Regional Court was still waiting for additional expert reports and data from mobile telephones operator, requested by the defence ... . It should also be underlined that one of the accused persons deliberately contributed to the prolonging of the proceedings by consuming a poisonous substance.”

On 24 April 1998 the applicant's defence counsel filed pleadings in which he commented on the Wrocław Regional Court's decision to request the further detention of the applicant. He challenged the credibility of the evidence against the applicant and his co-accused. He further pointed out the numerous shortcomings of the evidence proceedings and disputed the finding that the accused persons had substantially contributed to the length of the proceedings. He stated that the proceedings were lengthy due to the long intervals between the hearings (from 1,5 month to 2,3 months). Had the court decided to proceed for several consecutive days, the case would have been concluded by that time.

On 15 May 1998 the Supreme Court ruled as requested by the Wrocław Regional Court and prolonged the applicant's detention until 31 October 1998. The Supreme Court found that, apart from the reasonable suspicion that the applicant and the two co-accused persons committed the offence at issue, there existed an actual risk that they would obstruct the proceedings if released. The assumption of this risk was based on the severity of the potential sentence, the fact that not all witnesses were heard by the court yet and that the accused persons had indeed attempted to contact witnesses who appeared at the trial. Thus, in the view of the Supreme Court, only continuous detention could guarantee the proper conduct of the proceedings.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court also recommended that the trial court should “schedule the hearings in a more rational way as to avoid several months' intervals which had already happened in the instant case”.

On 1 October 1998 the Wrocław Regional Court again requested the Supreme Court to prolong the detention of the applicant and that of the co-accused. The Regional Court was still waiting for additional data from the mobile telephones operator. On 13 October 1998 the Supreme Court decided to prolong detention of the applicant and three co-accused until 30 November 1998. The Supreme Court found that the trial court had “effectively used the time since previous prolongation of the detention by the Supreme Court in this particularly complex case”.

Upon another request from the trial court, on 17 November 1998, the Supreme Court again prolonged detention of the applicant and the co-accused persons. The Supreme Court found that the additional evidence has not yet been obtained “for reasons beyond the trial court's control” and the other premises for detention remained valid. Detention was prolonged until 31 December 1998.

Following further request from the trial court, on 30 December 1998, the Supreme Court again prolonged detention of the applicant and of the co-accused persons until 28 February 1999. The Supreme Court referred to “considerable obstacles which arose in the course of the evidence proceedings, i.e. the need to examine contradictory data obtained from the mobile telephones operator”.

On 23 February 1999 the Wrocław Regional Court rendered its judgment. The Regional Court found the applicant and his co-accused guilty of robbery committed by an organised group. The court established that three of the accused had threatened the victim and stolen a briefcase containing Polish and foreign currency in the amount of PLN 515,000 and some personal items of a total value of PLN 516,810. The applicant had participated in the planning and the preparation of the crime as well in the assistance to the perpetrators thereafter. The findings of the court were based on the testimony of the following witnesses: Z.Z., who had been a victim of the robbery, P.S., H.B., J.Ch., A.Sz., D. B., J. Cz., M.C. and two anonymous witnesses T 05/96 and T 41/96. The court further had regard to the following evidence: a survey report, a contract of purchase of a motorcycle which one of the accused had bought, an expert opinion, minutes of presentation of certain objects to the witnesses, some banking documents, photographs made by the police for the purpose of the proceedings, reports of searches of certain apartments, a list of objects of material evidence, the billings of mobile phones connections.

The court considered that it was the evidence given by J.Cz., M.C., P.S., J.Ch., Z.Z., D.B. and two anonymous witnesses which had been crucial in establishing the guilt of the four accused. The court further observed that the evidence taken during the trial allowed – even if the evidence given by the anonymous witnesses had not been available – for making the fundamental findings of fact in the case. The evidence given by T05/96 and T 41/96 allowed for an accurate reconstruction of the role of each of the accused in the material events, permitting thereby the court to reach an absolute certainty that none of the other witnesses erred in their account of these events. The evidence of the anonymous witnesses also allowed for making the findings as to the applicant's role in the planning and the preparation of the crime. The applicant was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and a fine.

On 28 June 1999 the applicant's defence counsel filed an appeal against the Regional Court's judgment. They referred to the procedural shortcomings of the proceedings. In particular, they complained that the defence had been denied access to the full statements made by anonymous witnesses, which had been admitted as evidence in the case. In their opinion, this denial was in flagrant violation of domestic law, as the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure allowed to keep secret only the personal data of an anonymous witness, but not the content of his or her testimony. They alleged that the impossibility for the defence to have access to the full statements made by the anonymous witnesses infringed the applicant's defence rights. It was further argued that the first-instance court had made fundamental findings of fact on the basis of the testimony of anonymous witnesses, one of them in particular. Finally, the very purpose of keeping secret the testimony of the anonymous witness was challenged since “it was clear who the anonymous witnesses were”. The applicant's defence counsel also referred to admissibility of evidence and challenged its assessment by the trial court. He also pointed out the excessive length of the proceedings which was due to long intervals between the hearings.

On 27 October 1999 the Wrocław Court of Appeal upheld the first instance judgment.

The Court of Appeal considered that the appeal was groundless, but it admitted that certain arguments advanced by the defence were convincing.   Thus, the Court of Appeal accepted the argument that the first-instance court had kept secret certain parts of the anonymous witness' testimony in order not to compromise their anonymity. This was unacceptable, in particular in the light of the Supreme Court's resolution to the effect that  “personal data” within the meaning of Article 184 of the Code of Criminal Procedure had to be interpreted narrowly and that in no circumstances the content of the testimony could be kept secret (the Supreme Court's resolution of 20 January 1999, I KZP 21/98). However, in the view of the Court of Appeal, while it was true that the first-instance court had made certain findings of fact on the basis of the evidence given by the anonymous witnesses, it also had expressly stated that there was sufficient other evidence in the case on which to convict the accused. The appellate court concluded that the fact that the court based its judgment on, inter alia, the testimony of the anonymous witnesses did not affect the outcome of the proceedings.

On 4 January 2000 the applicant's defence counsel filed a cassation appeal with the Supreme Court. In particular, they addressed the issue of anonymous witnesses. They regretted that the appellate court failed to quash the impugned judgment despite finding that secret testimony of anonymous witnesses violated the law.

On 16 November 2001 the Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeal as manifestly unsubstantiated.

B.  Relevant domestic law and practice

1. Provisions governing detention on remand

Within the period of the applicant's detention, respective provisions governing preventive measures have been amended twice.

Until 4 August 1996 pursuant to the provisions of the 1969 Code of Criminal Procedure (“Old Code of Criminal Procedure”) detention could have been imposed by the prosecutor.

On 4 August 1996, an amendment was introduced to the Old Code of Criminal Procedure which provided that detention could only be imposed by a court, which should hear the suspect before imposing such a measure.

As of 1 September 1998 the Old Code of Criminal Procedure was repealed and the 1998 Code entered into force (the New Code of Criminal Procedure). It provides that detention can only be imposed by a court and requires that a court, when imposing detention, should give reasons why it considered less severe measures to be insufficient in a given case.

With regard to the length of detention, both Article 222 of the Old Code of Criminal Procedure (as amended) and Article 263 of the New Code of Criminal Procedure stipulated maximum periods of detention – 2 years applied to cases like the applicant's under both regimes. Following an application from a trial court, the Supreme Court could, in particularly justified circumstances, prolong detention for a fixed period exceeding the stipulated periods. In particular, detention could be prolonged when it was necessary in connection with a suspension of the proceedings, a prolonged psychiatric observation of the accused, when evidence had to be obtained in an exceptionally complicated case or from abroad or when delays were deliberately caused by the accused or due to other serious obstacles which could not be overcome by the authorities.

2. Contacts between defendant and counsel during the investigative stage of the proceedings

Under Article 64 of the 1969 Code of Criminal Procedure the defendant remanded in custody was entitled to communicate with his or her counsel in the absence of any other persons, and to send and receive correspondence to and from the counsel, unless the prosecutor reserved for himself the right to be present whenever the applicant saw his defence counsel. Such a decision of the prosecutor could be appealed against to a court. No further appeal lay against a court decision given in this respect.

3. Provisions relating to anonymous witnesses

As of 4 November 1995 Polish law regulates the admissibility of evidence from anonymous witnesses (Article 164a of the 1969 Code of Criminal Procedure, subsequently Article 184 of the 1978 Code of Criminal Procedure). It provides that, in a case where a justified fear that life, health, freedom or significant property of a witness or of a person close to him / her is endangered, a court or a prosecutor may decide to keep secret this witness' personal data.

The Supreme Court held that “personal data” had to be interpreted narrowly and that in no circumstances the content of the testimony itself could be classified secret (the Supreme Court's resolution of 20 January 1999, I KZP 21/98, published in 1999/1-2/3). 

4. Domestic remedy concerning the length of judicial proceedings

On 17 June 2004 Parliament adopted a law 'on a complaint about a breach of a right to have one's case heard within a reasonable time'. It entered into force on 17 September 2004.

Article 2 of the Law provides for a special action by which a party to a judicial proceedings can seek a declaration that his or her right to have the case heard within a reasonable time has been breached. The court shall take into consideration the conduct of the court before which the case is pending, the character of the case and the complexity of legal and factual issues involved therein, what was at stake for the complainant, and the conduct of the parties, in particular the conduct of the complainant.

Article 5 provides that the length complaint must be lodged with the competent court when the proceedings concerned are still pending.

Pursuant to Article 12, if the court finds that the length complaint is well- founded, it gives a ruling to this effect. If the complainant so requests, the court can also recommend that the court before which the case is pending takes certain procedural measures in the proceedings at issue. The court may also, if the complainant so requests, award an appropriate amount of money to the complainant, in an amount not exceeding PLN 10,000.

Under Article 18, within six months after the entry into force of this Act, anyone who has lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights in due time complaining of a violation of the 'reasonable-time' requirement contained in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms shall be entitled to lodge a claim under Article 5 hereof provided that the application to the Court has been lodged when the proceedings were still pending and that the case has not by then been declared admissible by the European Court.

COMPLAINTS

1. The applicant complains under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that his detention was not legitimate and that it was arbitrary.

2. He also complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that he was detained upon the decision of a prosecutor who was not a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power.

3. He also complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that the length of his detention exceeded a reasonable time.

4. He further complains under Article 6 § 1 in conjunction with Article 6 § 3 (b), (c) and (d) of the Convention that his right to a fair trial was violated. In particular he maintains that he did not have sufficient time and proper facilities to prepare his defence as he was not allowed additional time to consult voluminous evidence when the investigation had been completed. He further contends that, throughout the initial period of his detention, he could not communicate with his defence counsel out of hearing of a person appointed by the prosecutor. He also contends that the court, in contravention of the law, kept secret some parts of the testimony of anonymous witnesses and that he was convicted on the basis of their testimony.

5. He also complains about the length of the criminal proceedings against him.

THE LAW

1. The applicant complains under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention that his detention did not have a legal basis and was arbitrary.

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

“Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

...

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

The Court first recalls that any measure depriving a person of his liberty should be issued and executed by an appropriate authority and should not be arbitrary (see, among other authorities, Baranowski v. Poland, no. 28358/95, §§ 50-57, ECHR 2000-III; and Winterwerp v. the Netherlands, judgment of 24 October 1979, Series A no. 33, pp. 19-20, §§ 45 et seq.).

The Court further recalls that the “reasonableness” of the suspicion on which an arrest must be based forms an essential element of the safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention. Having a “reasonable suspicion” presupposes the existence of facts or information which would satisfy an objective observer that the person concerned may have committed the offence (cf. Fox, Campbell and Hartley v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 30 August 1990, Series A no. 182, p. 16, § 32).

As to the level of “suspicion”, facts which raise a suspicion need not be of the same level as those necessary to justify a conviction or even the bringing of a charge, which comes at the next stage of the process of criminal investigation. The existence or not of a reasonable suspicion in a concrete instance depends ultimately on the particular facts (cf. Murray v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 28 October 1994, Series A no. 300-A, p. 27, §§ 55 and 57).

In the present case, the initial evidence against the applicant was of a circumstantial character and the reasonable suspicion was indeed largely based on the testimony of anonymous witnesses. Other evidence was, however, gathered in the course of the investigation. In the original decision to detain the applicant the Prosecutor referred to the reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed an offence in conspiracy with other persons and to the existing risk that the applicant would go into hiding or exert pressure on the witnesses.

It would therefore appear that the authorities had good reason to believe at that time that the applicant had committed criminal offences punishable under the Polish Criminal Code. The Court sees no reason to doubt that the suspicion against the applicant reached the level required by Article 5 § 1(c) and that the purpose of the deprivation of liberty was to confirm or dispel that suspicion. It is to be further noted that the lawfulness of the applicant's detention was on many occasions reviewed by the competent authorities and was considered justified.

It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention, and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4.

2.  The applicant complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that he was not promptly brought before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power.

Article 5 § 3 insofar as relevant, provides as follows:

“Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial ...”

The Court observes that the applicant was first brought before a judge on 21 March 1997, when the first hearing was held in the criminal proceedings against him, which is more than six months before he lodged his application with the Court.  By virtue of Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention, the Court is not required to examine this part of the application as it was submitted out of time. It follows that this complaint must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

3. The applicant also complains that the length of his detention exceeded a reasonable time and that the domestic authorities failed to act with the special diligence required. 

Article 5 § 3 insofar as relevant, provides as follows:

“Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this article shall (...) be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. ...”

The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case-file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this complaint to the respondent Government.

4. The applicant also complains under Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention that his right to a fair trial was violated. He submits that he could not communicate freely with his defence counsel at the initial stage of the investigation. He also complains about the refusal to allow additional time to consult the case file when the investigation was completed. He finally alleges that he was not given access to the full statements of the anonymous witnesses and that the court based his conviction on the testimony of these witnesses.

Article 6 §§ 1 and 3, insofar as relevant, provides as follows:

“1.  In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing ...

...

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

...

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

(c)  to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(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;

...”

a) The applicant complains that he could not communicate freely with his defence counsel and about the refusal to allow additional time to consult the case file when the investigation was completed. He finally alleges that he was not given access to some parts of the testimony given by the anonymous witnesses.

The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case-file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore  necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this complaint to the respondent Government.

b) Insofar as the applicant complains that the court based his conviction on the testimony of the anonymous witnesses, the Court reiterates that although to base a conviction on statements made by anonymous witnesses is not in all circumstances incompatible with the Convention, Article 6 § 1, taken together with Article 6 § 3 (d), require that the disadvantages under which the defence labours be sufficiently counterbalanced by the procedures followed by the judicial authorities. With this in mind, an accused should not be prevented from testing the anonymous witness's reliability (Kostovski v. the Netherlands, judgment of 20 November 1989, Series A  
no. 166, p. 20, § 42) and no conviction should be based either solely or to a decisive extent on anonymous statements (Van Mechelen and Others v. the Netherlands, judgment of 23 April 1997, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1997-III, p. 712, §§ 54-55).

In the present case the Court observes that the findings of the first-instance court were based on the testimony of ten witnesses, including the victim of the offence, and two anonymous witnesses T 05/96 and T 41/96. The court further had regard to numerous pieces of other evidence, documentary and otherwise. The court observed that it was the evidence given by six of the witnesses and by two anonymous witnesses which was crucial in establishing the guilt of the four accused. The court further observed that the evidence taken during the trial allowed – even had the evidence given by the anonymous witnesses been not available – for making the fundamental findings of fact in the case. The evidence given by T05/96 and T 41/96 allowed for an accurate reconstruction of the role of each of the accused in the material events, permitting thereby the court to reach an absolute certainty that none of the other witnesses erred in their recount of these events. The evidence of the anonymous witnesses also allowed for making the findings as to the applicant's role in the planning and the preparation of the crime.

The Court further observes that the appellate court subsequently examined the applicant's submissions in this respect and considered that while it was true that the first-instance court had made certain findings of fact on the basis of the evidence of the anonymous witnesses, it also had expressly stated that there was otherwise sufficient evidence to make the factual findings sufficient for establishing the guilt of the accused.. The appellate court concluded that the fact that the court based its judgment on, inter alia, the testimony of the anonymous witnesses, did not affect the outcome of the proceedings.

In the light of the reasoning of the domestic courts, the Court considers that there was a considerable amount of alternative evidence before the trial court indicating that the applicant was guilty of the crime charged, which was also corroborated by the statement of the anonymous witness.  In these circumstances, the Court finds no grounds on which to hold that the degree to which the courts based the applicant's conviction on the testimony of these witnesses was incompatible with the standards of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention.

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

5. The applicant also complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of criminal proceedings against him.

Article 6 § 1, insofar as relevant, provides as follows:

“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time ... “

The Court considers that it cannot, at the present state of the file, determine the admissibility of this complaint. The Court therefore considers that this part of the application must be adjourned.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant's complaint concerning the length of criminal proceedings, pending the Court's decision as to whether the applicant, following the entry into force of the Act of 17 June 2004, has at his disposal an effective domestic remedy concerning the allegedly excessive length of judicial proceedings;

Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant's complaints concerning the length of detention, the alleged unfairness of the criminal proceedings and the refusal of access to the full statements made by the anonymous witnesses;

Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.

Vincent Berger Boštjan M. Zupančič 
 Registrar President

RYBACKI v. POLAND DECISION


RYBACKI v. POLAND DECISION