The ECHR judgment of 13 February 2018 in the case of Butkevich (Butkevich v. Russia) (application no. 5865/07).
In 2007, the applicant was assisted in preparing the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to the Russian Federation.
In the case, the complaint on the inability of the court of first instance to provide the defense side with an opportunity to interrogate the employee of the internal affairs authorities who detained the applicant in the case of maintaining public order was successfully considered. The case involved a violation of Article 6 (1) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant, who was a journalist, was detained by two police officers at an anti-globalization rally in the city of St. Petersburg, where the applicant took photographs. Subsequently, the applicant was charged with non-compliance with the requirements of employees of the internal affairs bodies, and he was brought before the court during a simplified procedure under the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. According to the applicant, the court refused to hear testimonies from the police officers detained by the applicant, as well as those employees who drafted the initial protocols on administrative detention and made changes to them, or any of the persons mentioned in those protocols. However, the court interrogated the witness who was present in the courtroom. The applicant was found guilty and sentenced to three days in custody, which, after filing the complaint, was reduced to two days.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with article 6, paragraph 1, of the Convention. The Court reiterated that the use of a simplified procedure in a situation where a "criminal charge" was involved was not in itself incompatible with Article 6 of the Convention if that procedure provided for the necessary safeguards and safeguards.
In the applicant's case, some guarantees were provided. In particular, an oral hearing was held, the applicant was assisted by a lawyer who considered the case and heard the applicant and his lawyer and granted the defense's request for interrogation of a witness who was in the courtroom.
However, the basis of the applicant's complaint is a lack of procedural safeguards regarding the use of the protocols drawn up before the trial by two officers of the internal affairs agencies who detained the applicant and the applicant's lack of opportunity to interview the said officers. The Court considered that there were no valid reasons for the absence of such persons to appear in the court session. In spite of the fact that according to the domestic legislation the named persons were not considered to be either witnesses or victims, in order to comply with Article 6 (3) (d) of the Convention, they should be considered as witnesses. Their conflicting testimony was at least decisive. These officers of the internal affairs agencies had to do with the commencement of proceedings against the applicant and related to the authorities that initiated the said proceedings. They were eyewitnesses of the applicant's participation in an illegal public event and his alleged refusal to comply with the demands of employees of the internal affairs bodies.
Thus, the Court was not convinced that the decision in the applicant's case was made in a fair trial, because it was based on unverified testimony of the employees of the internal affairs authorities who brought proceedings against the applicant and related to the authorities that initiated the production. The factor balancing this circumstance, questioning the witness of the defense party in the courtroom, did not matter.
The violation of the requirements of paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention (unanimously) was committed.
The Court also ruled unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention and Article 10 of the Convention, an additional violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention (in connection with the absence of the prosecution, see also the Karelin judgment of the Russian Federation (Karelin v. Russia) of 20 September 2016, application No. 926/08).
In application of Article 41 of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant EUR 7,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.