A judge has tried two cases with the same defendant. The fair trial was not violated and no discrimination was found.

JUDGMENT

Alexandru Marian Iancu v. Romania 04.02.2020 (no. 60858/15)

see here  

SUMMARY

The case concerned the applicant’s allegation that a judge who had been involved in convicting him in two sets of connected proceedings could not be impartial.

The Court found that aside from the alleged similarity between the two sets of proceedings against
the applicant for financial crimes, there had been no objective reasons for any misgivings as to one
of the judge’s impartiality. Indeed, he had tried to withdraw from the case, but his request had been
rejected in a reasoned decision.

PRINCIPAL FACTS 

The applicant, Alexandru-Marian Iancu, is a Romanian national who was born in 1965 and is
currently detained in Rahova Prison (Romania) following his conviction of various financial crimes in
2014 and 2015.

Mr Iancu had two sets of criminal proceedings brought against him concerning financial crimes he
had allegedly committed between 2000 and 2003 in his capacity as manager or director of several
private commercial companies. The case file from the first set of proceedings was joined to that of
the second set as certain evidence was common to both.

He was convicted in both sets of proceedings by a panel of two judges. One of the judges, M.A.M.,
appeared on both panels.

During the appeal proceedings in the second case against Mr Iancu, Judge M.A.M. sought to
withdraw in order to eliminate any suspicion concerning his possible lack of impartiality. His request
was rejected by a panel of two judges who found that the mere fact that he had taken part in the
previous case could not raise a reasonable suspicion as to his impartiality and that there was no
proof to show that, in the first case, he had expressed an opinion on the guilt of the accused who
were currently on trial. Further challenges for bias were made against Judge M.A.M., but they were
also rejected.

Complaints concerning Judge M.A.M.’s alleged lack of impartiality were also examined and rejected
by the High Court of Cassation and Justice and the Superior Council of Magistracy. They found in
particular that all the requests for recusal and the final judgment of 2015 convicting Mr Iancu had
been thoroughly reasoned.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT…

The Court reiterated that Article 6 § 1 required a court to be impartial and that it had established an
objective and subjective test to assess whether that was the case. The subjective test focused on a
judge’s personal convictions or behaviour, while the objective one looked at whether there were
ascertainable facts which could raise doubts about impartiality.

As for the subjective test, the Court was not persuaded that Judge M.A.M. had shown any personal
bias against Mr Iancu in the second set of proceedings.

Nor did it consider that there had been any objective reasons for Mr Iancu’s concerns about the
judge’s impartiality. The judge had sought to withdraw from the case, mostly as a precautionary
measure and not because of any actual doubt over bias. Moreover, his request to withdraw had
been rejected in a thoroughly reasoned decision.

Even though another judge who had taken part in the first set of proceedings alongside Judge
M.A.M. had been disqualified from sitting in the second set of proceedings, that decision had been
based on several reasons, including her behaviour as she had expressed an opinion on the second
case during the appeal.

On the other hand, aside from the alleged similarity between the two sets of proceedings, Judge
M.A.M.’s behaviour had not been such as to objectively justify Mr Iancu’s misgivings as to his
impartiality.

There had therefore been no violation of Article 6 § 1

 

 


ECHRCaseLaw

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