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Pre-trial detention was unlawfully extended, Poland admits before ECtHR

The European Court of Human Rights has heard the application of Norbert, who alleged to have been a victim of a violation of the right to personal liberty during an extension of his pre-trial detention.

Pre-trial detention
In April 2003, Norbert was arrested and later detained on remand. In December 2005, the first instance court sentenced him to three years and 10 months in prison. Norbert appealed against the conviction through his defence lawyer, the prosecution did not exercise the right to appeal. On appeal, a court reversed the first instance judgment and remanded the case for reconsideration in September 2006. However, the appellate court decided to extend Norbert’s pre-trial detention.

Detention was subsequently twice extended by a court’s order. Norbert’s attorney filed an interlocutory appeal against the last extension. In the decision made on 27 February 2007, the appellate court noted that if extended, the period of Norbert’s pre-trial detention would be longer than the actual prison term the man received by virtue of the reversed conviction. In the event that an appeal is submitted only by the defence, the second instance judgment may not impose a more severe penalty than that ordered in the first instance decision.  For this reason, Norbert’s pre-trial detention should have ended by 31 January 2007.

Norbert decided to file an application to the ECtHR, alleging that the prolonged application of pre-trial detention violated his human rights and that he was unlawfully detained from 31 January to 27 February 2007.

Government’s unilateral declaration before ECtHR
The Strasbourg Court accepted the unilateral declaration of the Polish Government, which admitted that the pre-trial detention of Norbert had been incompatible with the provision of the European Convention on Human Rights which ensures a person’s right to stand trial within a reasonable time. The Government further admitted that Norbert’s pre-trial detention from 31 January to 27 February 2007 was unlawful. The Government also agreed to pay to the applicant the sum of EUR 5,000.

Norbert was represented before the ECtHR by Ms Justyna Metelska, who agreed to appear in the case pro bono at the request of the Helsinki Foundation.


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