FOURTH SECTION

DECISION1

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 6847/02 
by Doniyor KHUDOYOROV 
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 22 February 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President
 Mr G. Bonello
 Mr M. Pellonpää
 Mr K. Traja
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mr L. Garlicki, 
 Mr J. Borrego Borrego, judges
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 29 January 2002,

Having regard to the decision of 13 February 2004 to grant priority to the above application under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court,

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 Doniyor Toshpulotovich Khudoyorov, is a national of Tajikistan who was born in 1965 and lives in Vladimir, Russia. He is represented before the Court by Messrs F. Bagryanskiy and M. Ovchinnikov, lawyers practising in Vladimir, and Mrs K. Moskalenko, a lawyer with the International Protection Centre in Moscow. The respondent Government are represented by Mr P. Laptev, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

A.  The circumstances of the case

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

The applicant arrived in Russia from Tajikistan on 17 August 1998. He stayed in Vladimir at his cousin’s flat and underwent medical treatment.

1.  The applicant’s arrest and search of his flat

On 22 January 1999 the applicant came back to the flat at 1 a.m. and found the doors open. Five minutes later a group of policemen entered the flat. The applicant was allegedly severely beaten and chained by his hand to a sofa leg.

The policemen under the supervision of an investigator with the Investigations Division of the Vladimir Regional Department of the Interior, searched the flat and the applicant. The body search was carried out in the presence of two female lay witnesses (понятые) who were employees of the same police department. The police allegedly had no search warrant.

On 22 January 1999, at 3.50 a.m., the investigator ordered the applicant’s detention on suspicion of the unlawful purchase and possession of drugs. The applicant refused to countersign the detention order. It appears that the detention order was issued only in Russian.

On the same day, between 3.50 and 4 a.m., the applicant was allegedly interviewed as a suspect. The applicant disputes that the interview took place. According to the transcript of the interview, the applicant invoked immunity from self-incrimination guaranteed by Article 51 of the Russian Constitution, asked for a legal aid counsel and for an interpreter and refused to countersign the record.

2.  The applicant’s detention pending investigation

On 22 January 1999 the Vladimir town prosecutor authorised the applicant’s placement in custody on the ground that the applicant was suspected of a criminal offence of medium gravity and that he could abscond or interfere with establishment of the truth. The applicant countersigned the order and also affixed his signature next to the printed statement “I have been informed of the right [to appeal] to a court”. The applicant alleges that these signatures were forged and a copy of the order was not given to him. No appeal against the order was lodged.

On 30 January 1999 the applicant was charged, under Article 228 § 1 of the Criminal Code, with unlawful purchase and possession of 3 g of hashish and he was questioned as an accused. The charge sheet was countersigned by the applicant and it contained a handwritten note “I was advised about my rights and I understand them. I want Mr G[.] to be my legal aid counsel” followed by the applicant’s and the lawyer’s signatures. The applicant pleaded not guilty and indicated that he did not need an interpreter because he had studied in Leningrad. Both statements are followed by his signature. The handwritten version of the events presented by the applicant is also followed by the applicant’s and the lawyer’s signatures. The applicant challenges the authenticity of these signatures.

On 12 March 1999 the acting Vladimir town prosecutor extended the applicant’s detention until 11 April 1999. The applicant did not appeal against the extension order.

On 5 April 1999 the Vladimir Region prosecutor extended the applicant’s detention until 11 July 1999. On an unspecified date the applicant’s lawyer asked a court to release the applicant on bail. On 4 June 1999 the Leninskiy District Court of Vladimir dismissed the lawyer’s request. The court found that the applicant’s detention had been extended in accordance with the law and that no grounds for the applicant’s release could be established. It appears that this decision was not appealed against to the Regional Court.

On 30 June 1999 the Vladimir Region prosecutor extended the applicant’s detention until 22 July 1999. On 2 September 1999 a deputy Prosecutor General authorised a further extension until 21 December 1999. The applicant did not appeal against these extension orders.

On 2 December 1999 the acting Prosecutor General approved the extension of the applicant’s detention until 21 June 2000. The applicant appealed against the order to a court. On 28 December 1999 the Leninskiy District Court of Vladimir dismissed the applicant’s appeal, finding that the applicant had been charged with an especially serious criminal offence and that his residence in Vladimir had been temporary, his permanent residence being in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which gave good reasons to suspect that he would flee if released. The applicant did not appeal against the decision to the Regional Court.

On 16 February 2000 the applicant was transferred to a different detention centre where he was allegedly ill-treated by other inmates with the wardens’ connivance. On 22 February 2000 the applicant went on a hunger strike requesting a transfer to another cell. On 22 February, 9 March and 13 March 2000 the applicant was visited by his lawyers, a representative of the Tajikistan Embassy and a prosecutor of the Vladimir Region, respectively – all of them are alleged to have seen the applicant’s injuries. On 21 April 2000 the applicant was fed by force.

3.  First return of the case for additional investigation

On 21 June 2000 the supervising prosecutor approved the bill of indictment and the case against the applicant and twenty co-defendants was referred to the Vladimir Regional Court for trial.

On 23 June and 17 July 2000 the applicant requested the Vladimir Regional Court to review the lawfulness of his detention on remand.

On 18 July 2000 the Vladimir Regional Court ordered the case to be returned for additional investigation because the bill of indictment had not been translated into the Tajik language, whilst seven defendants were Tajik. The court held that the applicant and his co-defendants should remain in custody.

On 24 July 2000 the prosecution appealed against the decision. A copy of their grounds of appeal was given to the applicant on 11 August 2000. On 14 August 2000 the applicant submitted his observations; he requested that the appeal be dismissed and the lawfulness of his detention be reviewed.

On 27 July and 18 August 2000 the applicant complained to the Vladimir Regional Court that his previous requests for review of the lawfulness of his detention had received no response.

On 30 August 2000 the prosecution withdrew their appeal of 24 July 2000 and on the same day the case was re-submitted to the Vladimir Regional Court for examination on the merits.

4.  Second return of the case for additional investigation

(a)  Preparation for the trial

On 4 September 2000 the applicant sent complaints to the President of the Vladimir Regional Court and the President of the Frunzenskiy District Court of Vladimir concerning the lawfulness of his detention. He submitted, in particular, that the authorised period of his detention had expired.

On 10 October 2000 the Vladimir Regional Court fixed a hearing for 1 November 2000 and ordered that the applicant and his co-defendants remain in custody.

On 1 November 2000 the hearing was adjourned until 14 November because the interpreter from Tajik was absent.

On 14 and 23 November 2000 the applicant and his co-defendants filed several requests. In particular, the applicant requested that all materials be translated into Tajik and the interpreter be replaced with a competent one.

(b)  Decision to return the case for additional investigation

On 23 November 2000 the court ordered the case to be remitted for additional investigation because the defence rights of several defendants had been unlawfully restricted. The court pointed out, however, that the request to translate the entire case-file into Tajik had no grounds in national law as the law only provided for translation of the bill of indictment and judicial documents, which had been done.

On 30 November 2000 the prosecution lodged an appeal against the decision of 23 November. On 30 December 2000 and 1 January 2001 the applicant sent his points of appeal and his objections to the prosecution’s appeal; both documents were written in Tajik and they were allegedly never translated into Russian.

(c)  Quashing of the decision to return the case for additional investigation

On 28 February 2001 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation quashed the decision of 23 November 2000. It found that, after the case had been remitted by the Vladimir Regional Court on 18 July 2000 for additional investigation, the prosecution had not taken any measures to remedy the defects identified by the Regional Court. In particular, the prosecution had not arranged for translation of the bill of indictment comprising nearly 400 pages and had not verified the competence of the interpreter. In view of these procedural defects, the Supreme Court held that all subsequent judicial decisions had been unlawful and remitted the case to the Vladimir Regional Court for enforcement of the decision of 18 July 2000.

(d)  Additional investigation of the case

i.  Extension of the applicant’s detention for one month (until 4 May 2001)

On 4 April 2001 the case was returned to the prosecutor’s office of the Vladimir Region for an additional investigation. On the same day a deputy prosecutor of the Vladimir Region extended the applicant’s detention on remand until 4 May 2001, under Article 97 § 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

ii.  Extension of the applicant’s detention for three months (until 4 September 2001)

On 19 April 2001 the prosecutor of the Vladimir Region applied to the Vladimir Regional Court for an extension of the applicant’s detention. The applicant filed his objections where he alleged, inter alia, that so far the prosecution had failed to perform any additional investigation.

On 28 April 2001 the Vladimir Regional Court established that the bill of indictment had been translated into Tajik and that on 18 April 2001 the defendants and their lawyers had begun examination of the case file. Noting the gravity of the charges against the applicant, his Tajik nationality and absence of a permanent residence in Vladimir, the Regional Court extended his detention period until 4 September 2001.

On 4 and 17 May 2001 the applicant appealed against the decision of the Vladimir Regional Court.

On 2 July 2001 the applicant petitioned the investigator for release. On 5 July 2001 his request was dismissed with reference to the gravity of the charge against him and the absence of a permanent residence in Vladimir. The applicant did not appeal against the refusal to a court.

iii.  Quashing of the decision to extend the applicant’s detention until 4 September 2001

On 8 August 2001 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation established that one of the applicant’s co-defendants had not been provided with an interpreter into Uzbek and that the applicant and other co-defendants had had no access to the materials examined in the Regional Court. It held:

“The defects of the court hearing described above and the curtailing of the defendants’ lawful rights... are substantive violations of the criminal procedure rules which could have affected the judge’s conclusions; the decision [of 28 April 2001] must therefore be quashed and the materials of the case for extension of the defendants’ detention on remand must be referred for a new judicial examination. During the new examination of the prosecutor’s request, the above defects shall be remedied... and the arguments by the defendants and their counsel, including those concerning the lawfulness of their detention, shall be reviewed... The preventive measure [imposed on, in particular, the applicant] shall remain unchanged”.

By an interim decision of the same date, the Supreme Court refused the applicant’s request to be present at the appeal hearing.

iv.  Second examination of the request for extension of the applicant’s detention until 4 September 2001

On 11 September 2001 the Vladimir Regional Court adjourned the hearing because several counsel did not appear and because several co-defendants asked for additional time for reading the case-file.

On 30 November 2001 the Vladimir Regional Court granted the applicant’s lawyer’s request for additional time to study the case-file and adjourned the hearing.

On 27 February 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court granted the applicant’s challenge to the presiding judge.

On 11 and 13 March 2002 hearings were adjourned because of the absence of several lawyers, including the applicant’s counsel.

On 12 April, 17 and 18 June 2002 further adjournments were due to the absence of counsel of other co-defendants.

On 15 August 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court issued a new decision on the application of the prosecutor of the Vladimir Region of 19 April 2001 for extension of the defendants’ detention on remand and granted the extension requested to 4 September 2001. The court found that the applicant’s holding in custody was necessary because he was a national of Tajikistan, he had no residence registration in Vladimir, and he was charged with a serious criminal offence. The court also referred to certain “conclusions” contained in the prosecutor’s application to the effect that the applicant might abscond or obstruct justice. The contents of these “conclusions” were not disclosed.

On 23 September 2002 the applicant lodged an appeal against the decision of the Vladimir Regional Court. He claimed that the contested decision had been “unlawful and unconstitutional” and requested leave to appear in person at the appeal hearing.

On 23 January 2003 the Supreme Court upheld the decision of 15 August 2002, finding as follows:

“The judge came to a well-justified conclusion that the defendants... could not be [released pending trial]. The judge had regard to the fact that these persons were charged with serious and especially serious criminal offences, he considered the information on their personalities and all the circumstances to which the prosecutor had referred in support of his application...

The fact that the above-mentioned decision on the prosecutor’s application was [only] made after the defendants had spent that period of time in custody... is not a ground for quashing of the decision of 15 August 2002 because the first judicial decision on this matter was quashed in accordance with the law and the prosecutor’s application of 19 April 2001 was returned for a new examination. The subsequent progress of the criminal case is, under these circumstances, of no relevance in reaching a decision on the prosecutor’s application.”

By an interim decision of the same date, the Supreme Court refused the applicant’s request for leave to appear because the defendants’ arguments were clearly set out in their points of appeal, their lawyers were present and the prosecutor did not participate.

5.  Third return of the case for additional investigation

(a)  Preparation for the trial

Meanwhile, on 4 September 2001 the additional investigation of the case was completed and it was sent to the Vladimir Regional Court. On or about that date the applicant asked the court for release pending trial.

On 9 January 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court fixed the first hearing for 5 February 2002 and held that the applicant should remain in custody pending trial:

“[The court] did not establish any grounds... to amend or to revoke the preventive measure imposed on the accused given the gravity of the charge against the defendants. Furthermore, the quashing on appeal of the court decision extending the detention on remand of several defendants in order to afford them [time] to examine the case materials is of no legal significance. [In its decision of 8 August 2001] the Supreme Court did not revoke the preventive measure, the case was forwarded to the court without delay and no other grounds for amending the preventive measure were established.”

On 11 February 2002 the applicant filed an appeal against the decision. He complained, in particular, about the unlawfulness of his detention because it had significantly exceeded the maximum 18-month period permitted by law, about poor conditions of his detention and ill-treatment by police officers during his apprehension and in subsequent periods. The applicant alleges that his appeal has never been despatched to the Supreme Court.

On 5 February 2002 the hearing was adjourned until 26 February because three defendants failed to appear. On 15 February 2002 the applicant prepared an appeal against the decision to adjourn the hearing, which, in addition, restated the points raised in his appeal of 11 February. The applicant contends that his appeal was not sent to the Supreme Court.

Between 4 and 13 March 2002 further hearings were held.

(b)  Decision to return the case for additional investigation

On 13 March 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court established that the case was not ready for consideration on the merits because of many procedural defects: in particular, several defendants had not had sufficient time to study the case file, one defendant had not been provided with an interpreter into Uzbek, and the applicant had not been informed in time of the expert examinations. The court remitted the case for additional investigation and remanded the defendants in custody “in the light of the gravity and dangerousness of the charges”.

On 11 and 29 April 2002 the prosecution and the applicant, respectively, appealed against the decision of 13 March. The applicant submitted, in particular, that the domestic law did not permit extensions of detention “during the investigation” beyond the maximum period of eighteen months which expired, in his case, on 4 April 2001.

On 28 May 2002 the case-file was forwarded to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation for examination of the remand matter.

(c)  Quashing of the decision to return the case for additional investigation

On 8 August 2002 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation refused, by an interim decision, the applicant’s request for leave to appear because his position had been clearly and exhaustively stated in his points of appeal.

On 12 September 2002 the Supreme Court examined the appeals lodged by the prosecutor, by the applicant and by his co-defendants and found that their defence rights had not suffered any impairment. On this ground it quashed the decision of 13 March 2002 and instructed the Vladimir Regional Court to proceed with trial. It held that the applicant and his co-defendants should remain in custody because “there were no legal grounds to amend the preventive measure given the gravity and dangerousness of the charges”.

On 7 October 2002 the case-file was returned to the Vladimir Regional Court.

6.  Further extensions of the applicant’s detention pending trial and his release from custody

On 18 November 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court held that the applicant’s detention on remand was to be extended until 3 December 2002. The court found as follows:

“The case was referred to the Vladimir Regional Court on 2 September 2001; on 13 March 2002 the decision to remit the case for additional investigation was made. On 12 September 2002 the Supreme Court quashed that decision, upon the prosecutor’s appeal. Thus, the defendants have remained in custody for 8 months and 16 days, starting from the date of the case referral and excluding the time period between [the end of] examination on the merits and the quashing of the decision [of 13 March 2002] on appeal.

Taking into account that the defendant is charged with serious and especially serious criminal offences, in order to secure the examination of the case and enforcement of the conviction, there are no grounds to [release the applicant]. Under these circumstances, pursuant to Article 255 § 3 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure, the defendant’s detention on remand is to be extended for an additional three months”.

On 4 December 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court granted a further extension of the applicant’s detention for three months, i.e. until 3 March 2003 [the decision mistakenly indicates 2002]. The grounds invoked by the court were identical to those in the decision of 18 November 2002.

On 22 and 26 November and 5 December 2002 the applicant’s lawyers lodged appeals against the decisions of 18 November and 4 December with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. They submitted, in particular, that the six-month period of the applicant’s detention which had started from the moment the case had been forwarded to the court had expired on 2 March 2002 and, in breach of Article 255 § 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it had not been extended at that time, but only two months and 16 days later, on 18 November. Therefore the applicant’s detention between 13 March and 12 September 2002 was not covered by any detention order because the prosecution had not accepted the case, while the courts considered the case to have been remitted for additional investigation and held the prosecution accountable for the applicant’s detention.

In his observations on the admissibility and merits of the application, the applicant submitted that these statements of appeal had not reached the Supreme Court. The Government did not address this issue in their memorandum of 7 June 2004.

It appears from the information supplied by the applicant that on 3 March, 28 May, 28 August and 27 November 2003 and 27 February 2004 the Vladimir Regional Court authorised further extensions of the applicant’s pre-trial detention, each time for three months. The applicant asserts that he submitted his grounds of appeal against each extension, however, the Regional Court’s registry, for no apparent reason, failed to forward these documents to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

Between May 2003 and 15 March 2004 further trial hearings were held. On 19 April 2004 the parties started their final pleadings.

On 28 May 2004 the Vladimir Regional Court, by an interim decision, held that the applicant’s detention on remand was not to be extended because the prosecution had meanwhile re-characterised the offences imputed to the applicant as those of lesser gravity. It appears that on the same day the applicant was released from custody.

7.  Judgments of the Constitutional Court

On 10 December 2002 the Constitutional Court examined the applicant’s complaint concerning his absence from the proceedings before the Supreme Court and confirmed that the applicant should have had the right to appear in person and plead his case before the court if a prosecutor participated.

On 15 July 2003 the Constitutional Court issued decision no. 292-O concerning the applicant’s complaint about the retrospective extension of his “detention during trial” by the Regional Court’s decision of 18 November 2002. It held as follows:

“Article 255 § 3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation provides that the [trial court] may... upon the expiry of six months after the case referral, extend the defendant’s detention each time for up to three months. It does provide, however, for the possibility to take a judicial decision extending the defendant’s detention on remand after the expiry of the previously authorised time-limit, in which case the person would be detained for a certain period of time without a judicial decision. Nor do other norms of the laws on criminal procedure provide for such a possibility. Moreover, Articles 10 § 2 and 109 § 4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure explicitly require the court, prosecutor, investigator... to immediately release anyone who is unlawfully held in custody beyond the time-limit established in the Code. Such is also the requirement of Article 5 §§ 3 and 4 of the European Convention... which is an integral part of the legal system of the Russian Federation, pursuant to Article 15 § 4 of the Russian Constitution...”

On 22 January 2004 the Constitutional Court delivered decision no. 66-O regarding the applicant’s complaint about the Supreme Court’s refusal to obtain his attendance at the appeal hearings in remand matters. It held:

“Article 376 of the Code of Criminal Procedure regulating the presence of a defendant remanded in custody before the appeal court... cannot be read as depriving the defendant held in custody... of the right to express his opinion to the appeal court, by way of his personal participation in the hearing or by other lawful means, on matters relating to the examination of his complaint about a judicial decision affecting his constitutional rights and freedoms...”

8.  Discontinuation of the criminal proceedings

On 18 June 2004 the Vladimir Regional Court, by an interim decision, discontinued the criminal proceedings against the applicant in the part concerning the charges of participation in an organised criminal enterprise and running an opium den because the prosecution had abandoned these charges.

By another interim decision of the same date, the court terminated the criminal prosecution of the applicant in respect of one incident of drug possession because of a recent change in the Russian criminal law that had removed criminal liability for possession of negligible amounts of drugs.

Finally, by a judgment of the same date, the court acquitted the applicant of the remaining drug-trafficking charges because his involvement in the commission of the offences could not be proven. Some of his co-defendants were convicted and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

It appears that the applicant lodged an appeal against the interim decisions which is now under consideration by the Supreme Court.

9.  Conditions of the applicant’s detention and transport

(a)  The applicant’s detention in facility no. IZ 28/1 (33/1)

Between 2 February 1999 and 16 February 2000 the applicant was held in detention facility no. 28/1 (later renamed 33/1) of the Vladimir Region.

The applicant was held in cell no. 40. The cell measured 40 square metres and had 24 beds. The cell population varied between 35 and 60 inmates.

(b)  The applicant’s detention in facility no. OD-1/T-2

Between 16 February 2000 and 28 May 2004 the applicant was held in detention facility no. OD-1/T-2 of the Vladimir Region (учреждение ОД-1/Т-2 УИН МЮ РФ по Владимирской области). He stayed in various cells in wings nos. 3 and 4, built in 1870 and 1846, respectively.

i.  Number of inmates per cell

According to a certificate of 22 April 2004 from the facility director, produced by the Government, the applicant was kept in eight cells described as follows: cell no. 4-14 (12.1 m2, 6 bunks, average population 4 to 6 inmates), cell no. 4-13 (12.3 m2, 6 bunks, 5 to 7 inmates), cell no. 4-9 (23.4 m2, 13 bunks, 13 to 20 inmates), cells nos. 3-3, 3-53, 3-54, 3-51 and 3-52 (35 to 36 m2, 16 bunks, 12 to 18 inmates).

The applicant does not dispute the cell measurements and the number of bunks. He disagrees, however, with the number of inmates asserted by the Government. According to him, between February and December 2000 he stayed in cell no. 4-9 that accommodated 18 to 35 inmates and between December 2000 and May 2004 he was kept in cells measuring approximately 36 m2, together with 20 to 40 other detainees. After the new Code of Criminal Procedure came into effect on 1 July 2002, the number of inmates in his cell dropped to 15-25 persons. Given an insufficient number of beds, inmates slept in eight-hour shifts. They waited for their turn sitting on the concrete floor or on a stool if available.

In support of his statements the applicant produced written depositions by his former cellmates, Messrs Abdurakhmon Kayumov, Sergey Gunin and Yan Kelerman. They stated, in particular, that in 2003-2004 cell no. 3-52 had accommodated 20 to 30 persons (Mr Kayumov’s deposition) or even 25 to 35 inmates (Mr Gunin’s deposition), as had cells nos. 3-51 and 3-53. They also submitted that they and the other detainees had slept in turn.

ii.  Sanitary conditions and installations

The Government, relying on a certificate of 8 April 2004 from the facility director, submit that “sanitary and antiepidemic state of the facility remains satisfactory, including... in the cells where [the applicant] was held”. Another certificate of 20 April 2004 shows that “the cells... were equipped with [a pan] placed no higher than 10 cm above the floor and separated by a partition of 1.5 m in height with additional curtains”. Running tap water was available and detainees were permitted to use immersion water heaters.

The applicant concedes that there were no outbreaks of contagious diseases or epidemics. Apart from that, the sanitary conditions were wholly unsatisfactory. Persons infected with tuberculosis, hepatitis, scabies and HIV were occasionally kept in his cell. Cells swarmed with clothes lice, bed-bugs, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, rats and mice; the facility administration did not provide products to fight them. Detainees were not given any toilet articles, such as soap, toothbrush or toothpaste, toilet paper, etc., save for 100 g of caustic soda once a week and two plastic bottles of bleach (1.5 litres each) every two or three months. Cells had no forced ventilation. In winter they were cold and in summer it was hot, stuffy and excessively damp inside.

The applicant challenges the Government’s description of the toilet facilities as factually untrue. The cast-iron pan was raised on a pedestal of about 50-80 cm and separated from the living area from one side with a one-metre-high partition. The person using the toilet was in full view of other inmates. No curtains were provided; occasionally the inmates hung a sheet but wardens tore it down and sanctioned the persons responsible. What is more, the pan had no seat or cover: inmates stuck an empty plastic bottle in the hole in order to prevent rancid smells from spreading. The dining table was fixed to the floor hardly a few metres away from the pan. This description is corroborated by written depositions of the applicant’s former cellmates, Messrs Abdurakhmon Kayumov, Sergey Gunin, Yan Kelerman and Sergey Kalenik, and four colour photos showing the pan and the dining table from various angles.

iii.  Food

The Government assert that “the applicant was fed in accordance with the established legal norms”. It appears from an undated certificate signed by the facility director that he was to receive, in particular, 100 g of meat, 100 g of fish, 100 g of groats, 20 g of pasta, 20 g of salt, 1 g of tea [sic], 0.5 kg of potatoes, 0.25 kg of vegetables, 0.55 kg of bread, etc. per day.

The applicant submits that the food was of extremely low quality. Most meals only included a so-called balanda, a soup-like mix of millet, barley and pasta without any fat. Meat was replaced with a soy substitute. No fresh vegetables were provided, occasionally the evening meal included cooked beetroot, sauerkraut or pickled cucumbers. Salt and tea were never distributed. Four written depositions by the applicant’s former cellmates confirm these submissions.

iv.  Outdoor exercise

The parties agree that the applicant was entitled to a daily walk of about one hour. The applicant indicates, however, that he was denied an opportunity to go outdoors on days of court hearings.

The Government do not describe the outdoor conditions. The applicant, and four written depositions by his former cellmates, portray the following picture of the exercise yards. They were closed premises measuring 12, 26 or 40 m2. The opening to the sky was covered with a metal roof with a one-metre gap between the roof and the top of the walls. In summer it was extremely hot and stifling inside as the sun heated the roof. Walls were covered with so-called shuba, a sort of thorny concrete lining, designed to prevent detainees from leaning on the walls. The entire cell population was brought to the yard at once, occasionally it was impossible to move around, let alone to exercise, because the crowd was so dense.

v.  Other issues

According to the applicant, the metal blinds blocking the access to natural light into cells were only removed on 28 December 2002 after a delegation that included a representative of the Council of Europe paid a visit to Vladimir detention facilities on 19 December 2002. The Government do not contest this information.

(c)  Contact with the outside world

The applicant’s relatives were not permitted to see him throughout the pre-trial investigation. After the trial had begun, he was afforded four short-term visits by his wife, children, sister and brother. At these meetings the applicant and his parents were prohibited from talking in any language other than Russian. The applicant was likewise prohibited from maintaining written correspondence with his relatives otherwise than in the Russian language: the facility administration refused to despatch his letters written in Tajik or to give him his relatives’ letters in Tajik.

The Government explain that these restrictions were due to the absence of a staff interpreter from Tajik in the facility.

(d)  Conditions of the applicant’s transport to and from the courthouse

During the detention on remand the applicant was transported to the Vladimir Regional Court on 205 occasions, of which 185 hearings concerned the charges against him and 20 hearings concerned extensions of his detention. The applicant offers the following description of the days on which he was taken to a hearing before the Vladimir Regional Court. His account is corroborated by four written depositions from his former cellmates.

On the hearing day the applicant was woken up at 4 or 5 a.m. At about 8 a.m. he was taken from his cell to the so-called “assembly cell”, together with other detainees who had a hearing on that day. Each “assembly cell” measured 9.2 to 9.9 m2 and accommodated 10 to 20 persons. “Assembly cells” had no artificial ventilation and the air was soon heavy with smoke. At about 9 or 9.30 a.m. the applicant was taken to a van.

The passenger compartment of the prison van had one “common” cell designed for four persons and six “individual” cells of 1 m2. The total design capacity was 10 persons. However, it usually transported 15-20 and up to 27 detainees. Occasionally the applicant was put in an “individual” cell together with another person. Owing to insufficient space, one of them could sit on the bench and the other person sat on his lap. The route to the Vladimir Regional Court took one hour, the van called into other facilities on its way.

Upon arrival at the courthouse the applicant was placed in one of the three temporary holding cells (конвойное помещение). Cells measured 2.6 m2 (2 m x 1.3 m) with ceilings 2.5 m high. They had been designed for 2 or 3 inmates, but accommodated 5 to 7 persons. Dim light only penetrated from the corridor through a small opening (15 by 20 cm) shielded with a perforated metal plate. There was no forced ventilation and no access to fresh air. Walls were covered with shuba, a kind of thorny concrete lining. The defendants were kept in these cells before, after and between court sessions.

The applicant normally did not arrive back to his cell until 6 or 8 p.m. On these days the applicant received no food, no outdoor exercise and occasionally missed the shower day.

At trial hearings on 27 March, 28 May, 9 July and 27 November 2003 the applicant complained to the trial judge about inhuman conditions of confinement at the courthouse and lack of food and fresh air. Each time the judge referred him to “the competent authorities supervising the detention of defendants”.

B.  Relevant domestic law

For a summary of relevant provisions of the Russian criminal procedure law, see Panchenko v. Russia, no. 45100/98, 8 February 2005, §§ 74-89.

C.  Relevant international instruments

The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolution 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977, provide, in particular, as follows:

“10. All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation...

11. In all places where prisoners are required to live or work,

(a) The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation;

(b) Artificial light shall be provided sufficient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight.

12. The sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary and in a clean and decent manner.

13. Adequate bathing and shower installations shall be provided so that every prisoner may be enabled and required to have a bath or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, as frequently as necessary for general hygiene according to season and geographical region, but at least once a week in a temperate climate.

14. All pans of an institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all time.

15. Prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness...

19. Every prisoner shall, in accordance with local or national standards, be provided with a separate bed, and with separate and sufficient bedding which shall be clean when issued, kept in good order and changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness.

20. (1) Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.

(2) Drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever he needs it.

21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.

45... (2) The transport of prisoners in conveyances with inadequate ventilation or light, or in any way which would subject them to unnecessary physical hardship, shall be prohibited...”

The relevant extracts from the General Reports prepared by the European Committee for the Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) state as follows:

Extracts from the 2nd General Report [CPT/Inf (92) 3]

“46.  Overcrowding is an issue of direct relevance to the CPT’s mandate. All the services and activities within a prison will be adversely affected if it is required to cater for more prisoners than it was designed to accommodate; the overall quality of life in the establishment will be lowered, perhaps significantly. Moreover, the level of overcrowding in a prison, or in a particular part of it, might be such as to be in itself inhuman or degrading from a physical standpoint.

47.  A satisfactory programme of activities (work, education, sport, etc.) is of crucial importance for the well-being of prisoners... [P]risoners cannot simply be left to languish for weeks, possibly months, locked up in their cells, and this regardless of how good material conditions might be within the cells. The CPT considers that one should aim at ensuring that prisoners in remand establishments are able to spend a reasonable part of the day (8 hours or more) outside their cells, engaged in purposeful activity of a varied nature...

48.  Specific mention should be made of outdoor exercise. The requirement that prisoners be allowed at least one hour of exercise in the open air every day is widely accepted as a basic safeguard... It is also axiomatic that outdoor exercise facilities should be reasonably spacious...

49.  Ready access to proper toilet facilities and the maintenance of good standards of hygiene are essential components of a humane environment...

50.  The CPT would add that it is particularly concerned when it finds a combination of overcrowding, poor regime activities and inadequate access to toilet/washing facilities in the same establishment. The cumulative effect of such conditions can prove extremely detrimental to prisoners.

51.  It is also very important for prisoners to maintain reasonably good contact with the outside world. Above all, a prisoner must be given the means of safeguarding his relationships with his family and close friends. The guiding principle should be the promotion of contact with the outside world; any limitations upon such contact should be based exclusively on security concerns of an appreciable nature or resource considerations...”

Extracts from the 7th General Report [CPT/Inf (97) 10]

“13.  As the CPT pointed out in its 2nd General Report, prison overcrowding is an issue of direct relevance to the Committee’s mandate (cf. CPT/Inf (92) 3, paragraph 46). An overcrowded prison entails cramped and unhygienic accommodation; a constant lack of privacy (even when performing such basic tasks as using a sanitary facility); reduced out-of-cell activities, due to demand outstripping the staff and facilities available; overburdened health-care services; increased tension and hence more violence between prisoners and between prisoners and staff. This list is far from exhaustive.

The CPT has been led to conclude on more than one occasion that the adverse effects of overcrowding have resulted in inhuman and degrading conditions of detention...”

Extracts from the 11th General Report [CPT/Inf (2001) 16]

“28.  The phenomenon of prison overcrowding continues to blight penitentiary systems across Europe and seriously undermines attempts to improve conditions of detention. The negative effects of prison overcrowding have already been highlighted in previous General Reports...

29.  In a number of countries visited by the CPT, particularly in central and eastern Europe, inmate accommodation often consists of large capacity dormitories which contain all or most of the facilities used by prisoners on a daily basis, such as sleeping and living areas as well as sanitary facilities. The CPT has objections to the very principle of such accommodation arrangements in closed prisons and those objections are reinforced when, as is frequently the case, the dormitories in question are found to hold prisoners under extremely cramped and insalubrious conditions... Large-capacity dormitories inevitably imply a lack of privacy for prisoners in their everyday lives... All these problems are exacerbated when the numbers held go beyond a reasonable occupancy level; further, in such a situation the excessive burden on communal facilities such as washbasins or lavatories and the insufficient ventilation for so many persons will often lead to deplorable conditions.

30.  The CPT frequently encounters devices, such as metal shutters, slats, or plates fitted to cell windows, which deprive prisoners of access to natural light and prevent fresh air from entering the accommodation. They are a particularly common feature of establishments holding pre-trial prisoners. The CPT fully accepts that specific security measures designed to prevent the risk of collusion and/or criminal activities may well be required in respect of certain prisoners... [E]ven when such measures are required, they should never involve depriving the prisoners concerned of natural light and fresh air. The latter are basic elements of life which every prisoner is entitled to enjoy...”

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicant complains under Article 3 of the Convention that the conditions of his detention on remand and the conditions of his transport to and from the courthouse amounted to inhuman treatment.

2.  The applicant complains under Article 5 § 1 (c) of the Convention that his arrest and detention on remand were not lawful because the prosecution did not have a reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence.

3.  The applicant complains under Article 5 § 2 of the Convention that he was not informed of the reasons for his arrest in the Tajik language. An interpreter mastering the Tajik language was only provided to him in 2000.

4.  The applicant complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention about a violation of his right to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. He complains that the decisions of the domestic courts authorising his detention were poorly reasoned and the courts used stereotyped wordings without citing any relevant facts in support of their conclusions that he might abscond or obstruct justice.

5.  The applicant complains under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention that during the first year of his detention he could not initiate a review of the lawfulness of his detention because he had no access to an interpreter. He complains that he was not present at the appeal hearings, despite his requests to that effect, and that the courts did not take into account the arguments set out in his appeals. Also, he contends that the courts failed to pronounce “speedily” on the lawfulness of his detention.

6.  The applicant also invokes Articles 6, 8, 9, 13 and 14 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1, without providing any details about alleged violations of these provisions.

THE LAW

1.  The applicant complains that the conditions of his detention and transport to and from the courthouse were in breach of Article 3 of the Convention which reads as follows:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

A.  Conditions of detention in facility IZ 28/1 (33/1)

The Court notes that the applicant remained in facility IZ 28/1 (33/1) until 16 February 2000. It does not appear that the applicant lodged any complaints concerning the conditions of his detention in that facility after he had been transferred from it. However, his application to the Court was only lodged on 29 January 2002, that is more than six months after his detention in that facility had ended.

It follows that this part of the complaint is introduced out of time and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

B.  Conditions of detention in facility no. OD-1/T-2

The Government submit that the applicant’s transfer to facility no. OD-1/T-2 represented a marked improvement in his conditions of detention, in particular, as regards the number of inmates per cell. In that facility the applicant had at all times no less than 2 m2 for himself. Upon the transfer the applicant was assigned an individual bunk and given bedding. The sanitary conditions were satisfactory, there was running tap water and detainees could use their own immersion heaters. The applicant had at least one hour of outdoor activity daily and the food was in compliance with the applicable standards. The applicant was permitted to talk to his relatives, and to correspond with them, only in Russian because there was no staff interpreter from Tajik and because the law did not provide for the presence of an interpreter during parental visits. The Government finally submit that the applicant did not complain to the Ministry of Justice about harassment or threats emanating from either other detainees or the facility wardens.

The applicant challenges the Government’s submissions as factually inaccurate. He indicates that the number of inmates per cell was significantly greater than that suggested by the Government, that cells were infected with parasites and excessively humid. The placement and partitioning of the lavatory pan offered no privacy whatsoever and contributed to a further infestation of the cell. The quality of food was wholly unsatisfactory. There was no real opportunity for outdoor exercise because the exercise yards were overcrowded and also covered with metal roofs that severely limited access to fresh air. The applicant submits that the conditions of his detention fell foul of paragraphs 12, 15 and 20 (1) and (2) of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (cited above). He considers that the requirement to talk Russian to his small children who spoke only Tajik was degrading and humiliating. He finally indicates that, upon his release, he was diagnosed with several diseases, such as hypertension and prostatitis, acquired during the detention.

The Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that this part of 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.

C.  Conditions of transport between the facility and the courthouse

The Government make no comments on legal aspects of the complaint.

The applicant maintains that the conditions of transport between the detention facility and the Vladimir Regional Court and the conditions of confinement at the courthouse were inhuman and degrading. “Assembly cells”, the van and temporary holding cells were severely overcrowded, with no access to natural light or air. He was not given food or drink and the cumulative effect of these conditions was that of mental and physical exhaustion. He considers that such conditions were incompatible with paragraph 45 (2) of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (cited above).

The Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that this part of 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.

2.  The applicant complains under Article 5 §§ 1 (c) and 3 of the Convention that his detention on remand was not lawful and excessively long. The relevant parts of Article 5 read as follows:

“1.  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;

...

3.  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 power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial...”

The Government submit that the applicant was to remain in custody because he was a foreign national charged with an especially serious criminal offence. He had no permanent residence in the Russian Federation and therefore he could abscond, if released. They aver that the entire term of his detention was compatible with the domestic procedural rules and free from arbitrariness. More specifically, on 22 January 1999 the applicant was arrested and questioned as a suspect. On 28 April 2001 the Vladimir Regional Court authorised the applicant’s detention until 4 September 2001 so as to afford him additional time to read the case-file. From 4 September 2001 to 9 January 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court examined the applicant’s case. From 13 March to 7 October 2002 the case was examined by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. In the Government’s opinion, the Russian law on criminal procedure did not require that the applicant’s detention should be extended during the latter period. On 12 September 2002 the Supreme Court returned the case-file to the Vladimir Regional Court which received it on 7 October 2002. By that time the new Code on Criminal Procedure had come into effect, and a new hearing was scheduled for 18 November 2002. On the latter date the applicant’s detention was extended until 3 December 2002. In the Government’s opinion, there was no violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 5 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention.

The applicant disagrees. He contends that on 8 August 2001 the Supreme Court quashed the extension order of 28 April 2001 as unlawful and remitted the remand matter for a new examination and, accordingly, his detention from 28 August 2001 was not “lawful” in the meaning of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention. After the case was referred for trial on 4 September 2001, the applicant submitted a request for release. However, it took the Regional Court more than four months – instead of the fourteen days required by Article 223-1 § 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – to hold the directions hearing and to examine the request. The decision of 9 January 2002 was deficient in its reasoning: the applicant was remanded in custody solely with regard to the gravity of the charges against him. However, the Russian Constitutional Court held on a number of occasions that that ground was not, in itself, sufficient to justify the continued detention. Moreover, his appeal against that decision to the Supreme Court was not examined. The applicant further submits that neither the Regional Court’s decision of 13 March 2002 nor the Supreme Court’s decision of 12 September 2002 addressed the arguments for or against his release and that his right to take part in the examination of the appeal was not respected. He indicates that on 12 September 2002 the Supreme Court heard the appeal for thirty minutes only. The applicant complains that on 18 November 2002 the Regional Court extended his detention retrospectively to cover the preceding two months and 15 days and that a similar retrospective extension was made on 4 December 2002. Finally, the applicant notes that the decisions extending his detention were in all cases identically worded and more often than not they did not refer to any specific reasons as to why it was necessary to hold him in custody.

(a)  Insofar as the applicant complained about the unlawfulness of his detention in the period to 4 May 2001, the Court observes that he either did not challenge before a domestic court the detention orders issued in that period, including that of 4 April 2001 extending his detention to 4 May 2001, or did not bring appeals against the first-instance court’s decisions, to the regional court. Even where he lodged points of appeal and they were not examined, as it happened most recently in January 2001, the Court notes that these events had taken place more than six months before the applicant lodged his application to this Court.

It follows that the part of the complaint concerning the lawfulness of the applicant’s detention prior to 4 May 2001 must be rejected for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies or non-compliance with the six-month time-limit, under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

(b)  As to the remainder of the complaint, the Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that it 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.  The applicant complained under Article 5 § 2 of the Convention that the reasons for his arrest were not explained to him in his native Tajik language. Article 5 § 2 provides as follows:

“Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.”

The Court observes that the applicant’s complaint concerning his arrest was dismissed by the Leninskiy District Court of Vladimir on 28 December 1999. It further notes that at least since February 2000 the applicant could benefit from the services of an interpreter of the Tajik language. However, he only lodged his application on 29 January 2002, that is more than six months thereafter.

It follows that this complaint is introduced out of time and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

4.  The applicant complains under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention that he was not permitted to take part in the appeal hearings and that the courts did not pronounce “speedily” on the lawfulness of his detention. Article 5 § 4 reads as follows:

“Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.”

(a)   As regards several sets of proceedings for review of the lawfulness of the applicant’s detention that took place before the Supreme Court’s decision of 28 February 2001, the Court notes that the application was lodged more than six months after these events had occurred and/or the final decisions in those proceedings had been made.

It follows that this part of the application is introduced out of time and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

(b)  As regards the proceedings for review of the lawfulness of the applicant’s detention extended by the Regional Court’s decision of 28 April 2001, the Government submit that the Supreme Court received the case-file, including statements of appeal, on 15 June 2001. On 9 July 2001 the appeal hearing was adjourned at the request of the lawyer of one of the defendants. On 8 August 2001 the Supreme Court quashed the decision of 28 April 2001 and remitted the matter. Several hearings were fixed and adjourned owing to counsel’s absence. On 15 August 2002 the Vladimir Regional Court issued a new decision in the remand matter. The Government maintain that the length of the proceedings was due to “objective reasons”, such as the applicant’s counsel’s failure to attend hearings, his repeated requests for adjournments and lodging of appeals to the higher court. As regards the applicant’s presence before the appeal court, the Government submit that the refusal to obtain his attendance was compatible with the then Article 335 of the RSFSR Code of Criminal Procedure which limited the list of persons having the right to appear before the appeal court, to those who had been convicted or acquitted.

The applicant contends, as regards the proceedings on his appeal against the Regional Court’s decision 28 April 2001, that it took the Supreme Court seventy-two days to fix the first appeal hearing which is by no means a “speedy” review. After the hearing of 9 July 2001 had to be adjourned, the next one was fixed almost a month later, which cannot be considered sufficiently “speedy”, either. In any event, he considers that the retrospective examination of the prosecutor’s application for an extension of his detention on remand was not lawful and incompatible with the Russian Constitution and the Convention. The applicant further notes that the Government omitted to explain why his appeals against the Regional Court’s decisions of 18 November and 4 December 2002 were not sent to the Supreme Court. Finally, he claims that the Supreme Court’s persistent refusals to secure his attendance at the appeal hearing was in breach of the binding rulings of the Russian Constitutional Court delivered upon his complaints (see part 7 of the Facts above).

The Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that the part of the complaint concerning the proceedings for review of the applicant’s detention after 28 April 2001 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.

5.  The Court, of its own motion, raised the question whether the length of criminal proceedings against the applicant was compatible with the reasonable time requirement of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which provides, in the relevant part, as follows:

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

The Government claim that they are not in a position to provide a “conclusive answer” as to the compliance with the “reasonable time” requirement because the proceedings are still pending. They submit, however, that the length of the proceedings was reasonable, having regard to the volume of the case (22 binders), the large number of defendants (21 persons) and witnesses (over a hundred persons), the use of interpreters, consistent failures of the defendants’ counsel, including the applicant’s lawyer, to attend the hearings and their requests for adjournments on various grounds.

The applicant disagrees with the Government’s allegations. He contends that only 12 binders concerned the merits of the charges, while the others only included procedural documents relating to the remedying of various violations of the defence rights. The documents in the twelve binders are repetitive, they include translations from Russian into Tajik and complaints and requests lodged by the defendants. The applicant alleges that the investigators have “artificially inflated” the volume of the case-file because they charged all the defendants with serious and especially serious criminal offences without a sufficient factual basis. In the applicant’s view, the prosecution’s decision to drop many charges during the final pleadings and his acquittal pronounced by the court as to their remainder confirm this allegation. Contrary to the Government’s submissions, the actual number of witnesses was 61 persons and each of them was called to the witness stand for some fifteen minutes. As to interpreters, the applicant emphasises that it was precisely the domestic authorities’ failure to make interpretation available in good time that entailed the return of the case for additional investigation and a delay in the proceedings. As to the lawyers’ conduct, the applicant indicates that on extremely rare occasions the case was adjourned due to his lawyer’s absence and, in any event, he consented to the continuation of the proceedings without his lawyer’s presence. The applicant submits that the conduct of the domestic authorities caused the most significant delays in the proceedings: copies of procedural decisions were handed over to the defendants several weeks after the expiry of time-limits established in the domestic law, it took the trial court up to 96 days to fix the first trial hearing (on 9 January 2002) and the interval between hearings sometimes lasted as long as 27 days. The “travel time” of the case between the Vladimir Regional Court and the Supreme Court was excessive: after the applicant lodged an appeal against the Regional Court’s decision of 13 March 2002, the case-file did not reach the Supreme Court until 40 days later, on 28 May 2002, and then the return route took an additional 25 days (from 12 September to 7 October 2002). The proceedings before the Supreme Court were also slow-paced: the Supreme Court examined the applicant’s appeal for three months and six days, from 6 June to 12 September 2002. Finally, between 10 July 2003 and 15 March 2004 the trial could have fixed a tighter hearings schedule so as to avoid delays between hearings ranging from two to ten days. The applicant deems that the proceedings have not been conducted with a reasonable time.

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.

6.  Lastly, the Court has examined the remainder of the applicant’s complaints under Articles 6, 8, 9, 13 and 14 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1. It notes, however, that the applicant did not explain why he believed that his Convention rights guaranteed by the invoked provisions had been violated.

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

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares admissible, without prejudging the merits, the applicant’s complaints concerning:

(a)  the conditions of his detention in facility no. OD-1/T-2 and transport to and from the courthouse,

(b)  the alleged unlawfulness of his detention after 4 May 2001,

(c)  the allegedly excessive length of his detention on remand,

(d)  availability and speediness of judicial review of his applications for release in the proceedings after 28 April 2001,

(e)  the length of criminal proceedings against him;

Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.

Michael O’Boyle Nicolas Bratza 
 Registrar President

1 Amended on 11 October 2005 in accordance with Rule 81 of the Rules of Court.


KHUDOYOROV v. RUSSIA DECISION


KHUDOYOROV v. RUSSIA DECISION