Convictions in absentia. Violation of a fair trial.

JUDGMENT 

Hysi v. Albania 22.5.2018 (no. 72361/11)

Malo v. Albania 22.5.2018  (no. 72359/11)

Muca v. Albania  22.5.2018   (no. 57456/11)

Topi v. Albania 22.5.2018   (no. 14816/08)

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SUMMARY 

Criminal proceedings in absentia without the accused having waived the right to appear in court. Infringement of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

PROVISION 

Article 6 § 1

PRINCIPAL FACTS 

All four cases concerned criminal proceedings held in the absence of the accused. The accused are four Albanian nationals. All but one are currently serving sentences of between 13 and 25 years’ imprisonment.

Three of the applicants were living abroad and only learned of their convictions when being extradited to Albania in 2006/7. These were the applicants: Ardit Hysi, born in 1977, and convicted in absentia in 2005 of attempted theft resulting in death; Vladimir Malo, born in 1975, and convicted in absentia in 2002 of attempted armed robbery, negligent homicide and premeditated murder; and, Arben Topi, born in 1977, and convicted in absentia in 2000 of establishing and participating in an armed gang and attempted intentional murder.

The remaining applicant, Blerim Muca, born in 1970 and living in Tirana, was acquitted in 1999 of premeditated murder. A year later however, he was convicted following a retrial on appeal by his co-accused and the prosecutor. His family informed him in 2005 of his conviction as he had gone abroad following his acquittal at first instance.
Mr Hysi and Mr Malo were subsequently granted leave to appeal out of time, but both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court upheld their convictions. Mr Muca applied for leave to appeal out of time, without success. Mr Topi lodged a constitutional appeal against his conviction in absentia, which was declared time-barred in 2007. The other three applicants’ constitutional appeals were all dismissed.

Relying in particular on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights, all the applicants alleged that the proceedings against them had been unfair because they had been held in their absence, without their knowledge and without their ever having waived their right to appear in court. Mr Topi also alleged that the rejection of his constitutional appeal had breached his right of access to court.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT

– case of Hysi:

Violation of Article 6 § 1

Just satisfaction: Mr Hysi did not submit a claim for just satisfaction.

-case of Malo:

Violation of Article 6 § 1

Just satisfaction: Mr Malo did not submit a claim for just satisfaction.

– case of Muca:

Violation of Article 6 § 1

Just satisfaction: The Court held that the finding of a violation constituted in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by Mr Muca.

– case of Topi:

Violation of  Article 6 § 1

– on account of the proceedings held in the absence of Mr Topi Violation of Article 6 § 1 (right of access to court)

Just satisfaction: Mr Topi did not submit a claim for pecuniary or non-pecuniary damage. The Court awarded him 1,000 euros (EUR) in respect of costs and expenses(echrcaselaw.com editing).


ECHRCaseLaw

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