EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
CASE OF KARPOVA v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 35413/07)
<*> This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Karpova v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Helena , President,
Branko Lubarda, judges,
and Marialena Tsirli, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 8 December 2015,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
- The case originated in an application (no. 35413/07) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national, Ms Tatyana Yevgenyevna Karpova (“the applicant”), on 20 July 2007.
- The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
- On 25 March 2011 the application was communicated to the Government.
- On 19 December 2005 the Sverdlovskiy District Court of Belgorod convicted the applicant of a drug offence and sentenced her to three years’ imprisonment. The judgment became final on 8 February 2006.
- On 21 December 2006 the Presidium of the Belgorod Regional Court, by way of a supervisory review, quashed the conviction and ordered a new trial. By the same decision the Presidium authorised the applicant’s release on an undertaking to appear.
- A copy of the Presidium’s decision was sent by regular mail and reached the facility where the applicant was serving her sentence only on 9 January 2007. Upon receipt of a certified copy, the applicant was released on 15 January 2007.
- On 5 June 2007 the Sverdlovskiy District Court acquitted the applicant of all charges, relying on the Court’s judgment in the Vanyan v. Russia case (no. 53203/99, 15 December 2005).
- The applicant complained to a court, seeking a declaration that the delay in her release from prison covering the period from 21 December 2006 to 15 January 2007 had been unlawful. On 25 April 2007 the Oktyabrskiy District Court of Belgorod, noting the provisions of Article 173 § 5 of the Code on the Execution of Sentences, according to which early release may be carried out on the day of receipt of the release order, held that the applicant had been unlawfully detained from 9 to 15 January 2007.
- In August 2009 the applicant applied to a court, seeking compensation for the unlawful prosecution. By a judgment of 15 October 2009, the Sverdlovskiy District Court, relying on the provisions of the Civil Code relating to compensation for damage incurred on account of unlawful conviction or prosecution, found that the applicant had been “deprived of her liberty from 19 December 2005 to 15 January 2007” but had been later acquitted of all charges. The District Court awarded her 170,000 roubles (approximately 4,300 euros (EUR) at the material time), noting that the amount of compensation had been calculated with due account for the fact that the applicant’s detention from 9 to 15 January 2007 had been declared unlawful.
- The judgment was upheld on appeal by the Belgorod Regional Court on 22 December 2009. The award was paid in full in April 2010.
- Alleged violation of Article 5 of the Convention
- The applicant complained that her detention from 21 December 2006 to 15 January 2007 had not had a legal basis. The relevant parts of Article 5 of the Convention read as follows:
“1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so…”
- The Government submitted that the applicant had lost her victim status as a consequence of the Sverdlovskiy District Court’s judgment of 15 October 2009, by which the District Court acknowledged a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s detention from 19 December 2005 to 15 January 2007 and granted her compensation in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
- The applicant maintained that she had not claimed, and had not received, any compensation for her unlawful detention between 21 December 2006 and 15 January 2007.
- The Court reiterates that a decision or measure favourable to the applicant is not in principle sufficient to deprive him of his status as a “victim” unless the national authorities have acknowledged, either expressly or in substance, and then afforded redress for, the breach of the Convention (see Amuur v. France, 25 June 1996, § 36, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-III, and Dalban v. Romania [GC], no. 28114/95, § 44, ECHR 1999-VI).
- Turning to the facts of the present case, the Court observes that on 21 December 2006 the Presidium of the Regional Court quashed the applicant’s conviction and authorised her release. She, however, remained in custody for another twenty-six days until her release on 15 January 2007.
- On 25 April 2007 the District Court pronounced the applicant’s detention from 9 to 15 January 2007 to have been unlawful. Following the applicant’s acquittal, on 15 October 2009 another District Court awarded her compensation for the unlawful criminal prosecution and the resulting unlawful deprivation of liberty. In determining the amount of compensation, the District Court had regard to the fact that her detention had been unlawful in the period between 9 and 15 January 2007. Since that period of detention was expressly declared to have been unlawful and compensated for, the Court finds that the applicant may no longer be considered a “victim” of a violation of her right to liberty in the period from 9 to 15 January 2007. The Government’s objection in this part must be upheld and this part of the complaint must be declared inadmissible.
- By contrast, no finding of unlawfulness was made in respect of the period between 21 December 2006 and 9 January 2007 which is also part of the applicant’s complaint before the Court. Neither the judgment of 25 April 2007 nor that of 15 October 2009 acknowledged, implicitly or explicitly, that she had unlawfully remained in prison in that period. The ground for awarding the applicant compensation was her acquittal rather than the alleged irregularity of her delayed release (compare Shkarupa v. Russia, no. 36461/05, § 76, 15 January 2015, and Shalya v. Russia, no. 27335/13, § 19, 13 November 2014). It follows that the applicant may still claim to be a “victim” of the alleged violation of her right to liberty in the period from 21 December 2006 and 9 January 2007. The Court dismisses the Government’s objection in this part.
- As this part of the complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention or inadmissible on any other grounds, it must therefore be declared admissible.
- The Government submitted no observations on the merits of the case. The applicant maintained her arguments.
- The Court notes that the Belgorod Regional Court issued the order for the applicant’s release on 21 December 2006. From that date on, there ceased to exist grounds for her detention. However, her release was delayed for many days while the release order was being forwarded to the prison authorities.
- The Court reiterates that some delay in implementing a decision to release a detainee is understandable, and often inevitable in view of practical considerations relating to the running of the courts and the observance of particular formalities. However, the national authorities must attempt to keep this to a minimum (see Quinn v. France, 22 March 1995, § 42, Series A no. 311; Giulia Manzoni v. Italy, 1 July 1997, § 25 in fine, Reports 1997-IV; K.-F. v. Germany, 27 November 1997, § 71, Reports 1997-VII; and Mancini v. Italy, no. 44955/98, § 24, ECHR 2001-IX). Administrative formalities connected with release cannot justify a delay of more than a few hours (see Nikolov v. Bulgaria, no. 38884/97, § 82, 30 January 2003). It is for the Contracting States to organise their legal system in such a way that their law-enforcement authorities can meet the obligation to avoid unjustified deprivation of liberty (see Shukhardin v. Russia, no. 65734/01, § 93, 28 June 2007; and Mokallal v. Ukraine, no. 19246/10, § 44, 10 November 2011).
- In the present case it took the domestic authorities twenty days to convey the release order from the court to the facility where the applicant was held. Having regard to the prominent place which the right to liberty holds in a democratic society, the respondent State should have introduced appropriate legislation and deployed all modern means of communication of information to keep to a minimum the delay in implementing the decision to release the applicant, as required by the relevant case-law (see Ruslan Yakovenko v. Ukraine, no. 5425/11, § 69, ECHR 2015; Mokallal, cited above, § 44, and Matyush v. Russia, no. 14850/03, § 74, 9 December 2008). The Court is particularly concerned about the fact that the Russian Code on the Execution of Sentences allowed the authorities to delay the implementation of the release order for any duration of time pending receipt of a certified copy (compare Wereda v. Poland, no. 54727/08, §§ 43 – 44, 26 November 2013, and v. Poland, no. 16761/07, § 34, 17 April 2012).
- Since the applicant remained in detention after the court ordered her release, there has been a breach of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.
- Other alleged violations of the Convention
- The Court has examined the remainder of the applicant’s complaints. However having regard to all the material in its possession, and in so far as these complaints fall within the Court’s jurisprudence ratione materiae, it finds that the evidence discloses no appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention or its Protocols. It follows that this part of the application must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
III. Application of Article 41 of the Convention
- Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
- The applicant claimed EUR 250,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
- The Government submitted that the amount claimed was excessive.
- The Court awards the applicant EUR 7,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable.
- Costs and expenses
- The applicant did not claim any costs or expenses.
- Default interest
- The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
- Declares the applicant’s complaint about her unlawful detention in period from 21 December 2006 to 9 January 2007 admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
- Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, EUR 7,500 (seven thousand five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
- Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 12 January 2016, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Marialena TSIRLI Deputy Registrar