The incorrect assessment of evidence of a drug convicted violated the fair trial
Kobiashvili v. Georgia 14.03.2019 (no. 36416/06)
Drug conviction. The manner in which the basic evidence against the applicant was gathered calls into question the credibility and accuracy of the evidence. Procedural irregularities in the applicant’s personal investigation, inconsistent and contradictory evidence of the actual circumstances of the investigation, inadequate judicial control both before and during the trial and weakness of the evidence. The failure of the national courts to examine adequately the applicant’s allegations that the drugs did not belong to him. Infringement of the right to a fair trial pursuant to Article 6 § 1 of the ECHR.
Article 6 § 1
The applicant, Archil Kobiashvili, is a Georgian national who was born in 1973 and lives in Tbilisi.
The case concerned his complaint about his conviction for drugs offences.
Mr Kobiashvili was convicted in 2005 of buying and possessing heroin and sentenced to six years’
A police report on a search of his person, statements by the two police officers who conducted the
search and by two attesting witnesses who allegedly attended it laid the basis for his conviction.
However, he stated throughout the proceedings against him that he had not been searched, either
before or after his arrest, and that the substance allegedly found on him had to have been planted
by the police.
An appeal on points of law was rejected as inadmissible in 2006.
Relying in particular on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial), Mr Kobiashvili complained that his
conviction had been unfair because it had been based on planted evidence. He also alleged that he
had not been given an effective opportunity to challenge the search or the use of the evidence thus
obtained in the proceedings against him
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
According to the European Court of Human Rights, Article 6 of the Convention guarantees the right to a fair trial and it is for the Court to ascertain whether the proceedings as a whole were fair, including the manner in which the evidence was obtained and heard, whether the applicant had the opportunity to challenge evidence but also to respect the principles of fair trial and equality of arms between the prosecution and the defense. In assessing the fairness of the procedure, account must be taken of the quality of the evidence, including whether the circumstances in which it is taken call in question its reliability or accuracy.
In the present case, the European Court of Human Rights found that the manner in which the basic evidence against the applicant was collected calls into question the credibility and accuracy of the evidence. Considering the importance of the evidence, the Court assessed cumulatively the procedural defects in the applicant’s personal investigation, inconsistent and contradictory evidence of the actual circumstances of the investigation, insufficient judicial review before and during the trial, failure the national courts to examine adequately the applicant’s allegations that the drugs did not belong to him but also the weakness of the evidence and held that all the above have rendered the applicant’s trial unfair. Consequently, there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention
Violation of article 6 § 1
Just satisfaction: EUR 3,500 (non-pecuniary damage)(echrcaselaw.com editing).