The ECHR judgment of 24 January 2017 in the case of Koprivnikar v. Slovenia (application No. 67503/13).
In 2013, the applicant was assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was also communicated to Slovenia.
In the case, the applicant successfully complained of the cumulative punishment for multiple crimes. The case involved a violation of the requirements of Article 7 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant was convicted by separate sentences for three separate crimes, for which he was sentenced to imprisonment for five months, four years and 30 years respectively. Subsequently, the applicant appealed to the district court in accordance with Article 53 § 2 (2) of the Criminal Code of 2008 on combining three prison terms in one sentence.
This provision established that the total punishment should exceed each individual punishment, but should not exceed the sum of punishments or 20 years of imprisonment. Taking into account that the legislator did not intend to introduce legislation allowing criminals sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment to benefit from a general punishment that should have been reduced by 10 years, when the crimes were combined, the district court appointed the applicant a total sentence of 30 years deprivation of liberty for all three crimes. In the conventional proceedings, the applicant complained that the punishment applied to him violated Article 7 of the Convention.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with the requirements of Article 7 of the Convention. The applicable legal status used by the domestic courts provided an insufficient legal basis for determining the punishment. In particular, the application of the wording of the 2008 Criminal Code to the applicant's situation produced contradictory results. While under the terms of this provision the applicant was not required to receive a general punishment for more than 20 years, the total punishment was to exceed each individual sentence, which in the applicant's case included a sentence of imprisonment of 30 years. The only way in which the courts of the respondent State could enforce the principle that only the law could determine the crime and establish punishment and mitigate the consequences of the unpredictability of the law in the present case was to interpret the defective position restrictively, that is, in the applicant's favor.
The corresponding provision could be applied to the applicant by ignoring the lower limit, which required that the total punishment exceed each individual punishment, by ignoring the upper limit, which provided that the total term of imprisonment did not exceed the maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. The first option was more favorable for the applicant and had to take into account the maximum limit of the general punishment explicitly provided for by law. The courts of Slovenia interpreted the defective situation using various interpretations and concluded that it should be understood as imposing punishment in the form of 30 years of imprisonment, although this punishment was more severe than an explicit maximum, and although, given the formulation of this provision, it clearly prejudiced the applicant's interests.
Accordingly, and taking into account all the above considerations, the domestic courts failed to comply with the principle of legality embodied in Article 7 of the Convention. The general punishment imposed on the applicant violated the principle that only the law can establish punishment, and the principle of retrospective application of a softer criminal law.
The case involved violation of the requirements of Article 7 of the Convention (adopted by six votes "for" with one - "against").
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The establishment of a violation in itself will constitute sufficient fair compensation.