The excessive length of detention of a policeman and the claim for damages
Vanchev v. Bulgaria 19/10/2017 (no. 60873/09)
A policeman convicted of a breach of duty served a higher sentence than the imposed one. Excessive detention and tort action against public prosecutors. Receiving reduced compensation for legal costs. Infringement of the right to freedom and security and the right to be heard.
Article 5 § 1
Article 6 § 1
The applicant, Georgi Petrov Vanchev, is a Bulgarian national who was born in 1952 and lives in Sofia. The case concerned his complaint of having been detained for a period in excess of the set term of his sentence and of having been ordered to pay excessive court fees in tort proceedings he had brought against the prosecution authorities.
Mr Vanchev is a former police officer. Criminal proceedings were brought against him in 1996, and he was placed under house arrest from 6 March 1996 until 3 April 1996, when he was remanded in custody. He was once again placed under house arrest on 1 July 1996 until 30 September 1997. He was thus deprived of his liberty for more than one year and six months. In its final judgment in January 1998 the Sofia Military Court convicted him of failing to perform his duties and gave him a one-year suspended prison sentence. In separate proceedings the Supreme Court of Cassation, on 26 March 2003, convicted him of fraud and sentenced him to one year of imprisonment. He was again placed in detention on 1 July 2003 to serve a combined sentence of one year in prison, but was released on 18 September 2003 by a decision of the competent prosecutor who noted that the period of pre-trial detention should have been deducted from Mr Vanchev’s sentence.
In 2004 Mr Vanchev brought a tort action against the prosecution authorities, claiming compensation for his detention having exceeded the set term of imprisonment. In a judgment of 2006, Sofia City Court allowed his claim in part. The court also ordered him to pay court fees amounting to 1,040 euros (EUR). He was eventually awarded approximately EUR 1,530 damages in a final judgment of the Supreme Court of Cassation in 2009.
Relying on Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security), Mr Vanchev alleged that his detention had been in excess of the set term of imprisonment. Further relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing), he complained that the court fees he had to pay had reduced significantly the compensation he had been awarded.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 5 § 1
Violation of Article 6 § 1
Just satisfaction: EUR 10,000 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 1,500 (costs and expenses)(echrcaselaw.com editing).