THIRD SECTION

DECISION

Application no. 53740/00 
by Stanislaw TÓRZ 
against Poland

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 6 October 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr B.M. Zupančič, President
 Mr L. Caflisch
 Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska
 Mr V. Zagrebelsky
 Mr L. Garlicki
 Mrs A. Gyulumyan, 
 Mr David Thór Björgvinsson, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 30 June 1999,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Stanislaw Tórz, is a Polish national who was born in 1966 and lives in Złotów. The respondent Government are represented by their Agent, Mr Jakub Wołąsiewicz.

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

The applicant was charged with attempted theft of a car. On 30 July 1998 the applicant was informed of the charges, had access to the case-file and was informed of his right to make motions for the evidence to be taken. On an unspecified later date he was detained by the police and remanded in custody.

During the first and only hearing held before the Złotów District Court on 8 January 1999 he denied the charges. On the same day the Court sentenced the applicant to eighteen months’ imprisonment. Subsequently, the applicant announced his intention to appeal against the judgment. He also complained to the Minister of Justice, submitting that neither the bill of indictment nor the notification of the hearing had been served on him before the hearing and that, therefore, he had been deprived of adequate time and facilities to prepare his defence.

On 17 February 1999, in reply to his complaint, the applicant received a letter from the President of the Poznań Regional Court. The president informed the applicant it had been established that the bill of indictment had been delivered to the detention centre, but that there was no evidence that it had indeed been served on the applicant as the relevant service slip was not to be found in the case-file.

On 11 February 1999 the applicant lodged an appeal against the District Court’s judgment of 8 January 1999. In his appeal he raised numerous complaints regarding the alleged shortcomings of the proceedings before the District Court. He also complained that the first instance court had held the hearing on 8 January 1999, despite the fact that the applicant had not been served with the bill of indictment prior to the hearing.

On 25 March 1999 he made a request for a legal aid lawyer to represent him before the Regional Court. The court refused legal aid, considering that he had failed to show that he was unable to pay the defence costs without prejudice to his and his family’s subsistence means.

On 2 April 1999 the Poznań Regional Court, having examined the applicant’s appeal, changed the contested judgment and sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment. The court observed that it had not been established that the bill of indictment and the notification of the date of the hearing had indeed been served on the applicant prior to the hearing. However, the applicant had not shown that he had drawn the attention of the first-instance court thereto. The court considered that this infringement was of a minor importance and had not substantially affected the applicant’s situation before the court.

Following the second-instance judgment the applicant made numerous unsuccessful complaints to the Minister of Justice and to the Ombudsman regarding the alleged procedural shortcomings of the proceedings against him.

Apparently, on 11 April and 25 May 1999 the applicant made a request to have a legal aid lawyer assigned to the case to lodge a cassation appeal on his behalf. His request was refused by a decision of 29 June 1999 and on 16 July 1999 the Regional Court rejected a cassation appeal he had prepared himself for failure to comply with formal requirements, on the ground that it was not prepared by a lawyer.

COMPLAINTS

The applicant complained under Article 6 § 3 (a) of the Convention that the Złotów District Court gave the judgment of 8 January 1999, despite the fact that the bill of indictment was not properly served on him.

The applicant further complained that the District Court did not properly notify him of the date of the hearing so he did not have adequate time for the preparation of his defence as guaranteed by Article 6 § 3 (b) of the Convention.

The applicant complained that the Poznań Regional Court’s refusal to grant him legal aid for the purposes of lodging the cassation appeal for which legal assistance was obligatory infringed his defence rights resulted in his irrevocably losing an opportunity to institute cassation proceedings. He alleged a breach of Article 6 § 1 read in conjunction with Article 6 § 3 (c) of the Convention.  

THE LAW

On 7 October 2004, the Court invited the Government of Poland to submit written observations on the admissibility and merits of the case before 3 January 2005. Subsequently, the time-limit for the submission of the Government’s observations was prolonged until 14 February 2005. On 21 February 2005 the Government’s observations were transmitted to the applicant who was invited to submit his observations by 4 April 2005.

Having received no reply, by a registered letter of 7 June 2005, the Registry of the Court renewed its request and warned the applicant that should the observations not be received before 28 June 2005 and no extension of the time-limit having been requested, the Court might decide to strike the case off its case-list. The applicant did not reply.

In the light of the above, in accordance with Article 37 § 1 of the Convention, the Court now considers that the applicant has lost interest in his application. Furthermore, the Court finds no special circumstances regarding respect for human rights as defined in the Convention which require the continuation of the examination of the application.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.

Vincent Berger Boštjan M. Zupančič  
 Registrar President

TÓRZ v. POLAND DECISION


TÓRZ v. POLAND DECISION