SECOND SECTION

DECISION

Application no. 69691/01 
by Sören RICHTER 
against Sweden

The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting on 5 July 2005 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr J.-P. Costa, President
 Mr I. Cabral Barreto
 Mr K. Jungwiert
 Mr V. Butkevych
 Mr M. Ugrekhelidze
 Mrs A. Mularoni, 
 Mrs E. Fura-Sandström  
and Mr S. Naismith, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 16 February 2001,

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 FACT

The applicant, Mr Sören Richter, is a Swedish national who was born in 1945 and lives in Huskvarna. He was represented before the Court by Mr T. Leman, a lawyer practising in Göteborg.

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 4 December 1992 the police made a report (anmälan) against the applicant for having committed aggravated fraud against creditors (grov oredlighet mot borgenär). On 10 December 1992 the applicant was interrogated concerning the matter and was informed about the suspicion against him. On 18 February 1993 a further interrogation was held. Subsequently, the preliminary investigation report, consisting of 391 pages, was communicated to the applicant and, on 16 April 1993, he was briefly questioned over the telephone. Four days later, on 20 April 1993, the preliminary investigation was apparently 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District Court (tingsrätten) of Gothenburg, claiming that, in May 1992, the applicant, together with three others, had withdrawn SEK 3,730,0001 from company A as fictitious payment for company B, thereby depriving company A of a substantial amount of capital and making it actually or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.

The applicant denied the 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 found the applicant guilty of the charge and sentenced him to ten months’ imprisonment. In deciding the sentence it stated that:

“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 offence was mainly committed during 1992 and an unusually long time, which has not been caused by the defendants’ own behaviour, has passed. ....

.... The length of the prison sentence for ... [the applicant] ... can be set at ten months”.

The applicant appealed to the Court of Appeal (hovrätten) for Western Sweden, maintaining his innocence. 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 but increased the sentence from ten months to one year and six months’ imprisonment. In reaching this conclusion it considered that:

“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, ..., 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 this worse rather than affording real redress for the violation.

On 20 November 2000 the Supreme Court refused leave to appeal. In June 2001 the applicant requested the Supreme Court to re-open the case, which it refused on 2 July 2001.

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. In particular, the fact that nothing had happened between the finalisation of the preliminary investigation report on 20 April 1993 and the submission of the indictment to the District Court on 31 October 1997 had led him to think that the case had been closed.

THE LAW

On 21 April 2005 the Court received the following declaration from the Swedish Government, signed by the Agent of the Government on 11 April 2005 and by the applicant’s representative on 14 April 2005:

“On 16 February 2001, Mr Sören Richter (“the applicant”) lodged application no. 69691/01 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 90,000 (ninety thousand)2 to the applicant. The amount will be paid to his counsel, Mr Torsten Leman, 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 12 May 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. Naismith  J.-P. Costa 
 Deputy Section Registrar President

1 Around EUR 406,600


2 Around EUR 9,800


RICHTER v. SWEDEN DECISION


RICHTER v. SWEDEN DECISION