The conviction for malicious accusations of a municipal councilor is a violation of freedom of expression.
Athanasios Makris v. Greece (application no. 55135/10) 9.3.2017
Defamation. Freedom of expression. The applicant was mayor of Salamis for 12 years and at the relevant time he was a municipal councilor and head of the opposition party “Unity”.
The case concerned his criminal conviction about malicious accusations because of the falsification, at a meeting of the city council, of a text criticizing the outgoing mayor for a public procurement contract. He commenced criminal proceedings against the applicant, who was found guilty of defamation. The ECtHR has decided that there has been a violation of Article 10.
The applicant, Athanasios Makris, is a Greek national who was born in 1946 and lives on the Island of Salamina (Greece). Mr Makris was the mayor of Salamina for 12 years and, at the relevant time, he was a town councillor and leader of the opposition party “Unity”.
The case concerned Mr Makris’ criminal conviction for malicious accusations on account of his having distributed, during a town council meeting, a text criticising the outgoing mayor in
connection with a public procurement contract.
In January 2007 Mr Makris distributed a document to town councillors criticising the outgoing mayor (V.A.) in connection with his handling of a public procurement contract; his criticisms were later published in the press.
In December 2008, in proceedings brought by V.A. as a civil party, the Piraeus Criminal Court found Mr Makris guilty of defamation, sentencing him to a suspended term of one year for having reported untrue allegations which impugned the honour and reputation of V.A. The judgment was upheld by the Piraeus Court of Appeal, which reduced the prison sentence to six months suspended. Under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Makris appealed on points of law, but his appeal was dismissed in July 2010.
Relying on Article 10 of the European Convention, Mr Makris complained about his defamation conviction.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 10
Just satisfaction: 3,000 euros (EUR) (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 1,500 (costs and expenses)