Lack of fair satisfaction due to excessive length of criminal proceedings violated the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time.

JUDGMENT 

Papargyriou v. Greece 21.11.2019 (no.  55846/15)

see here

SUMMARY

Failure to grant just satisfaction under Greek law for the excessive length of the criminal proceedings before the investigating authorities.

In particular, the Court found that the procedure, which lasted more than 10 years and nine months at the pre-trial level, was too long, in so far as it was incompatible with the requirement of a reasonable period under Article 6 of the ECHR.

The Court has observed that, in accordance with national case-law, and despite the possible future interpretation of domestic law – L. 4239/2014 did in fact provide for just satisfaction for an unjustifiably long period before criminal courts – but there is no possibility in Greek law. one to receive compensation for delays in proceedings. Violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time) of the ECHR.

PROVISION 

Article 6

PRINCIPAL FACTS 

The applicant, Georgia Papargyriou, is a Greek national who was born in 1952.

In 2004 criminal proceedings were brought against Ms Papargyriou for repeated acts of forgery and
misappropriation of funds committed in the course of her professional duties. A judicial investigation
was opened. On 12 November 2004 Ms Papargyriou appeared before the police.

In 2012 the Indictments Division of the Criminal Court ordered the extension of the judicial
investigation. Subsequently, in 2013, an additional judicial investigation into various other charges
was ordered.

In 2015 the Indictments Division of the Court of Appeal discontinued the criminal proceedings in
respect of certain counts of misappropriation committed in the course of a professional activity. It
also decided not to indict Ms Papargyriou on the other charges against her.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT 

Article 6 (right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time)

Admissibility of the complaint

The Government asked the Court to declare the application inadmissible for failure to exhaust
domestic remedies. They submitted that Ms Papargyriou should have appealed to the domestic
courts under Law no. 4239/2014 which, since 5 August 2015, has provided for a compensatory
remedy in cases where non-pecuniary damage was caused by the unjustified prolongation of
proceedings before the criminal courts. They referred to the Court’s case-law in Xynos v. Greece2.
Ms Papargyriou disputed that argument, submitting that Law no. 4239/2014 did not cover
excessively lengthy proceedings before the pre-trial divisions, which delivered “orders” and not
“decisions”.

The Court found that a literal interpretation of sections 2 and 3 of Law no. 4239/2014 would mean
that the compensatory remedy was available only after the publication of a final “decision” of the
domestic court concerned. Under domestic law the pre-trial divisions did not deliver “decisions” but
“orders”, which the legislation did not mention. It thus appeared that as the domestic case-law
stood at the time, and notwithstanding the possible future interpretation of the domestic legislation,
Law no. 4239/2014 was not interpreted as encompassing complaints about delays in proceedings
before the pre-trial divisions. Ms Papargyriou was not therefore required by Article 35 § 1 of the
Convention to use the remedy provided for by that Law.

Merits of the complaint

Ms Papargyriou had appeared before the police on 12 November 2004 and the Indictments Division
of the Court of Appeal had given its final ruling on 5 August 2015. The proceedings had thus lasted
for more than 10 years and nine months, a period which was excessively lengthy to an extent that
was incompatible with the reasonable time requirement under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Therefore there had been a violation of that Article.

Just satisfaction (Article 41)

The Court held that Greece was to pay the applicant 10,000 euros in respect of non-pecuniary
damage.


ECHRCaseLaw

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