AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 6437/02
by Józsefné NAGY
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 6 July 2004 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr J.-P. Costa, President,
Mr A.B. Baka,
Mr L. Loucaides,
Mr K. Jungwiert,
Mr V. Butkevych,
Mrs W. Thomassen,
Mr M. Ugrekhelidze, judges,
and Mrs S. Dollé, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 26 November 2001,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mrs Józsefné Nagy, is a Hungarian national, who was born in 1957 and lives in Kerecsend, Hungary.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 10 April 2001 tax investigators searched the applicant’s house and arrested her on suspicion of having committed multiple offences involving tax fraud. The applicant alleges that the tax investigators’ behaviour was harsh and insensitive in that they hindered her in providing her son with a spray-inhaler when he suffered an asthma attack at the time of the search. She was kept in police custody for three days.
On 13 April 2001 the Eger District Court dismissed the Tax Investigation Office’s request to have the applicant detained on remand, having regard to the needs of her minor children. However, the District Court ordered her not to change her address or to leave the county of her residence pending the close of the investigation. This measure was based on section 99 § 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. On 19 April 2001 the Heves County Regional Court dismissed the applicant’s appeal against this decision.
Subsequently, the applicant lodged complaints with the Heves County Public Prosecutor’s Office about the investigators’ conduct. On 23 August 2001 the Prosecutor’s Office refused to open an investigation, observing that the applicant had failed to lodge a complaint at the time of the house search by refusing to sign the minutes of the search. Moreover, it considered that the investigators carried out the search and the arrest in accordance with the law. On 12 October 2001 the Eger Public Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the applicant’s appeal against the decision of the Eger Public Prosecutor’s Office.
On 21 August 2001 the Eger District Court dismissed the applicant’s request to have the restrictions on her movements lifted. On 28 August 2001 the Heves County Regional Court dismissed her appeal.
On 26 October 2001 the Eger Public Prosecutor’s Office prolonged the restrictions on the applicant’s movements.
On 17 January 2002 tax investigators questioned the applicant. In May 2003 the investigations were completed. Subsequently, a bill of indictment was preferred.
The applicant complains about the actions of the tax investigators while her son was having an asthma attack and maintains that the Hungarian authorities’ decisions were wrong and that the criminal proceedings against her have lasted an unreasonably long time. Moreover, she complains about the restriction on her movements. She invokes Articles 3, 5, 6 and 8 of the Convention and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention.
1. The applicant complains that the length of the criminal proceedings, so far amounting to more than 3 years before one level of jurisdiction, violates the reasonable time requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which, insofar as relevant, reads as follows:
“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time [a] ... tribunal...”
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 part of the application to the respondent Government.
2. The applicant complains that the alleged incident concerning the spray-inhaler amounted to a violation of Article 3 of the Convention, which, insofar as relevant, reads as follows:
“No one shall be subjected ... to inhuman or degrading treatment....”
The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint at the present stage, and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
3. In so far as the applicant’s complaint under Article 5 can be understood to concern her detention in police custody, the Court observes that this was terminated on 13 April 2001. Accordingly, the six-month time-limit must be taken to run from that date. However, the applicant lodged her application only on 26 November 2001, i.e. more than six months later.
It follows that this part of the application has been introduced outside the six-month time-limit prescribed by Article 35 § 1 and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4 of the Convention.
4. To the extent that the applicant invokes Article 5 in respect of the restriction placed on her movements, the Court observes that this measure did not amount to a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention. It recalls in this connection that mere restrictions on the liberty of movement of an individual resulting from measures of special supervision fall to be examined under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (Raimondo v. Italy, judgment of 22 February 1994, Series A 281-A, § 39). It follows that this complaint is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of Article 5 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
5. As regards the applicant’s complaints under Article 8 of the Convention (assuming the applicability of that provision) and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 about the restriction on her movements, including the prohibition on relocating to a new address, the Court observes that the measure was applied in accordance with the law and pursued the legitimate aim of the prevention of crime. It notes that the courts took into account the applicant’s family situation and, instead of ordering her pre-trial detention, only ordered her not to change her place of residence. In these circumstances, the interference can reasonably be regarded as proportionate.
It follows that these complaints are manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaints concerning the length of the criminal proceedings against her and the spray-inhaler incident;
Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.
S. Dollé J.-P.
NAGY v. HUNGARY DECISION
NAGY v. HUNGARY DECISION