Judgment of the ECHR of July 07, 2020 in the case "Dimo Dimov and Others v. Bulgaria" (aplication No. 30044/10).
In 2010, the applicants were assisted in the preparation of aplications. The aplications were subsequently consolidated and communicated to Bulgaria.
The case successfully considered aplications about the insufficiently rapid transfer of the application for release to a court of other territorial jurisdiction for joint consideration, as well as an unjustified two-month ban on re-filing the same application. The case violated the requirements of article 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
In November 2009, the applicants were taken into custody as part of the chosen preventive measure in the criminal case. After rejecting several applications for release from detention, the applicants were eventually released due to the expiration of the maximum period of application of this measure established by law: one year. In 2014, after several requests for additional investigation, noting that the prosecutor's office had not prepared a new indictment, the relevant court stopped the criminal proceedings. The applicants, upon termination of the proceedings, filed a claim for damages for the time spent in custody, and this claim was granted.
The complaint was declared admissible on the merits only in respect of one of the applicants (hereinafter referred to as the applicant).
Regarding compliance with article 5, paragraph 4, of the Convention. (i) the Urgency of consideration. Although one of the applicant's applications for release from detention was considered within four days, which corresponds to the concept of "urgency", the situation with the other application was different: the authorities considered it for 25 days.
More specifically, after the decision of the Bulgarian authorities to join the consideration of his request for release from custody petitions of three co-accused in the case (which was due to the fact that they served in the framework of a criminal case) transfer the request from the Prosecutor's office in the capital of Bulgaria, which received a petition in U.S. district court in another city, which was empowered to consider this request, took 19 days. Even taking into account the distance between the two cities (230 km) and the need to transfer the case file to the district Court so that it could consider the applicant's application with a full examination of the factual circumstances, the Court decided that the delay in considering the application, for which the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office was solely responsible, was excessive.
(ii) A temporary ban on the filing of applications for release from custody. In rejecting the applicant's second request for release from custody, the court prohibited the applicant from filing further similar requests for two months.
This measure was provided for in the Bulgarian Code of Criminal Procedure. The Court did not rule out the possibility that such a ban could be justified in the case of a clear abuse of the prisoner's procedural rights (for example, if the filing of petitions was used to delay the proceedings or obstruct the investigation). However, it was the Bulgarian authorities who were obliged to demonstrate the necessity of applying this measure by providing relevant and sufficient grounds for the relevant decision to exclude any suspicion of arbitrariness.
Bulgarian legislation does not provide for the possibility of automatic consideration of the question of the legality and necessity of placing a person in custody, prisoners themselves must request such a review. In the present case, when the district court decided to apply the impugned restriction, the applicant had already been detained for five months, at that time he had submitted only one application for release from custody, and the new application had been pending for several days, which together suggested that the applicant had not abused his right to apply for release from custody.
Moreover, the criminal case against the applicant had not yet been completed, which meant that new evidence could be collected that could, for example, confirm the existence of a reasonable suspicion against the applicant. These circumstances made it even more necessary for the Bulgarian courts to provide clear, indisputable arguments to justify the application of the ban in question.
Nevertheless, the district court decided to apply the ban for the maximum period provided for by law, without any explanation of the need for this measure or the chosen period for its application. Consequently, the Court concluded that the measure applied was unjustified and contrary to the applicant's right to have the question of the necessity of his detention examined at regular short intervals.
The case involved a violation of the requirements of article 5, paragraph 4, of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
The Court also found a unanimous violation of article 5, paragraph 5, of the Convention: the applicant received compensation for the damage caused to him by his excessively long detention (which amounts to a complaint under article 5, paragraph 3, of the Convention), but no violation of his rights guaranteed by article 5, paragraph 4, of the Convention was found, and no corresponding compensation was paid to him. The new remedy introduced in Bulgarian law, which provided for special compensation for a violation of article 5, paragraph 4, of the Convention, was not applied retrospectively, and there was no other remedy under which the applicant could have availed himself of the right to compensation under this paragraph after the Judgment of the European Court of Justice.
In the application of article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant EUR 5,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.