Domestic violence. Conviction without the testimony of the victim at the court
Ν.Κ. v. Germany 26.07.2018 (no. 59549/12)
Criminal conviction of the applicant for domestic violence against the spouse. In particular, the applicant was accused of beating her with ropes and shoes and forcing her to engage in sexual acts. His spouse did not testify during the criminal trial. The applicant complained that he did not have the opportunity to examine the basic witness against him. No breach of Article 6 § 3 (d) for failure to examine the spouse because the national courts have relied on the applicant’s conviction for a number of other testimonies.
Article 6 § 1
Article 6 § 3 (d)
The applicant, N.K., is a German national who was born in 1966 and is currently in detention.
The case concerned criminal proceedings brought against him for domestic violence.
N.K. was arrested in September 2009 on suspicion of violence against his wife and detained on remand. An investigating judge, without appointing counsel for the applicant, had questioned his wife, who had elaborated on a particularly violent episode during the last weekend of July 2009, ending on 2 August with her managing to escape from the marital home and take refuge with neighbours. She stated that her husband had repeatedly assaulted her throughout their marriage, but that the assaults had escalated during that weekend, and had included repeated beatings, with a rope, a wooden pole and shoes, and forcing her to carry out sexual acts on herself.
During the trial against the applicant, his wife refused to give testimony. The Regional Court nonetheless relied on the testimony she had made to the investigating judge at the pre-trial stage to convict the applicant in June 2010 of, among other things, dangerous assault, sentencing him to six and a half years’ imprisonment. It also relied on statements made by a number of witnesses to the events on 2 August 2009 and to the applicant’s wife’s injuries and frantic state, including: the counsellor at the women’s shelter where the applicant’s wife had been admitted; the son of the applicant’s wife, who had been at home in his room during the weekend in question and had heard screaming; a number of neighbours who had helped the applicant’s wife; and, by police officers who had been called to the scene. The applicant lodged an appeal on points of law and a constitutional complaint, without success.
Relying on Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d) (right to obtain attendance and examination of witnesses), N.K. complained that the proceedings against him had been unfair because neither he nor his counsel had been given the opportunity at any stage to examine his wife, who was the only direct witness to the offences of which he was found guilty.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
No violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d)(echrcaselaw.com editing).