SECOND SECTION

DECISION

Application no. 68721/01 
by Kent KARLSSON 
against Sweden

The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 4 October 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr J.-P. Costa, President
 Mr I. Cabral Barreto
 Mr V. Butkevych
 Mrs A. Mularoni
 Mrs E. Fura-Sandström
 Ms D. Jočienė, 
 Mr D. Popović, judges
and Mrs S. Dollé, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 19 December 2000,

Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.

Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case.

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Kent Karlsson, is a Swedish national who was born in 1966 and lives in Onsala. He is represented before the Court by Mr R. Ekman, a lawyer practising in Gothenburg.

The respondent Government were represented by their Agent, Ms I. Kalmerborn of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

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

On 28 October 1992 the applicant was informed by the police that he was suspected of having committed aggravated tax fraud (grovt skattebedrägeri) and interrogated concerning the circumstances surrounding the matter.

Further, on 9 December 1992, he was informed that he was also suspected of having committed aggravated fraud against creditors (grov oredlighet mot borgenär) and was interrogated concerning this matter. On 17 February 1993 a second interrogation took place. Subsequently, the preliminary investigation report, consisting of 391 pages, was communicated to the applicant and apparently, on 20 April 1993, it was finalised.

On 31 October 1997 the prosecutor submitted an indictment to the District Court (tingsrätten) of Gothenburg, claiming that, in May 1992, the applicant, together with three others, had withdrawn SEK 3,730,000 (roughly EUR 396,000) from company A as fictitious payment for company B, thereby depriving company A of a substantial amount of capital and making it actually or potentially insolvent. Moreover, as concerned the charge of aggravated tax fraud, the prosecutor submitted that the applicant, together with another person, had submitted the value-added tax declaration for company A for the period May-June 1992 to the Tax Authority, well aware that they had given incorrect information as to the amount of the incoming value-added tax. This had resulted in the company receiving an amount which exceeded the real amount due to it by SEK 600,407 (roughly EUR 63,700).

Apparently, the prosecutor had, on 12 June 1997, submitted an indictment to the District Court, claiming that the applicant had committed aggravated tax fraud and aggravated fraud against creditors on two other occasions than specified above.

The applicant denied all charges.

At the beginning of May 1998 the District Court held an oral hearing. On 29 May 1998 it delivered its judgment in which it convicted the applicant of all the charges and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment. In deciding on the sentence, the court stated inter alia:

“The nature of the offence and what would ordinarily constitute a fair punishment (straffvärdet) for the offence of which ..., [the applicant], ... ha[s] been found guilty excludes all other penalties than imprisonment. However, reasonable account must be taken of whether, in view of the nature of the offence, an unusually long time has passed since it was committed. The present offences were mainly committed during 1992 and an unusually long time, which has not been caused by the suspect’s own behaviour, has passed. .... A balanced assessment leads to the conclusion that the prison sentence for ... and [the applicant] can be set at two years”.

The applicant appealed against the judgment to the Court of Appeal (hovrätten) for Western Sweden, demanding that he be acquitted of all the charges. The prosecutor opposed the applicant’s appeal and, for his part, requested that the applicant’s punishment be increased.

On 9 June 2000 the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s finding of guilt on all points but increased the sentence from two to three years’ imprisonment. In its reasoning, it stated inter alia:

“As held by the District Court, the nature of the offences committed by [the applicant] ..., and what would ordinarily constitute a fair punishment for the offences, lead to the conclusion that each of the defendants shall be sentenced to imprisonment. Even taking into consideration the long time which has elapsed since the crimes were committed, and that [the applicant] is given a ban on carrying on a business, the Court of Appeal finds that the prison sentence should be put higher than what the District Court decided”.

The applicant made a further appeal to the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen), claiming, among other things, that his right to have his case tried within a reasonable time in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention had been violated and that the Court of Appeal by increasing his prison sentence had made worse rather than afforded a real redress for the violation.

On 20 November 2000 the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal.

COMPLAINT

The applicant complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the criminal case against him had not been determined within a reasonable time.

THE LAW

On 6 June 2005 the Court received the following declaration from the Swedish Government, signed by the Agent of the Government on 19 May 2005 and by the applicant’s representative on 26 May 2005:

“On 19 December 2000, Mr Kent Karlsson (“the applicant”) lodged application no. 68721/01 against Sweden with the European Court of Human Rights (“the Court”). The application was communicated to the Swedish Government (“the Government”) on 1 September 2004.

The Government and the applicant have now reached the following friendly settlement on the basis of respect for human rights, as defined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, in order to terminate the proceedings before the Court.

a)      The Government will pay, ex gratia, the sum of SEK 80,000 (eighty thousand)1 to the applicant. The amount will be paid to his counsel, Mr Ralph Ekman, who has been authorised by the applicant to receive payment on his behalf. Execution of payment will take place when the Government has received the Court’s decision striking the case out of its list of cases.

b)      The applicant declares that he has no further claims on the Swedish State based on the facts of the above application.

This settlement is dependent upon the formal approval of the Government at a Cabinet meeting.”

The settlement was approved by the Swedish Government on 22 June 2005.

The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties (Article 39 of the Convention). It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). Accordingly, Article 29 § 3 of the Convention should no longer apply to the case and it should be struck out of the list.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

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

S. Dollé J.-P. Costa 
 Registrar President

1 Around EUR 8,500


KARLSSON v. SWEDEN DECISION


KARLSSON v. SWEDEN DECISION