EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
CASE OF SADRETDINOV v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 17564/06)
<*> This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Sadretdinov v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Luis Guerra, President,
Pere Pastor Vilanova, judges,
and Stephen Phillips, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 3 May 2016,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
- The case originated in an application (no. 17564/06) 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, Mr Fail Khusyainovich Sadretdinov (“the applicant”), on 20 April 2006.
- The applicant was represented by Mr I. Yavorskiy and Ms E. Liptser, lawyers practising in Moscow. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Mr G. Matyushkin, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
- The applicant alleged, in particular, that the conditions of his detention had been appalling, that he had not received adequate medical care in detention, that his lengthy detention on remand had lacked justification, and that two of his appeals against detention orders had not been examined.
- On 30 April 2010 the application was communicated to the Government.
- The circumstances of the case
- The applicant was born in 1969 and lived until his arrest in Moscow, having worked as a notary.
- Murder case
- On 22 November 2003 the Khamovnicheskiy district prosecutor in Moscow opened a criminal investigation into the attempted murder of a certain Mr P. Police officers questioned the applicant. Two months later the case was closed in view of the finding that there was no actus reus.
- On 15 April 2005 the criminal case was reopened and joined to the criminal proceedings instituted in respect of the killings of Mr Paul Khlebnikov, the founding editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, and Mr Yan Sergunin, a former Deputy Prime Minister of Chechnya. Only two weeks separated the two murders, which were believed to have been connected in light of the fact that Mr Khlebnikov had been in contact with Mr Sergunin not long before his death.
- Arrest and detention
- On 24 May 2005 the applicant was arrested on suspicion of having organised the murders. Two days later the Basmannyy District Court, Moscow, (“the District Court”) authorised his detention during the investigation, having assessed the gravity of the charges and the risk of the applicant absconding, reoffending and interference with witness.
- On 21 July 2005 the District Court extended the applicant’s detention until 9 October 2005, citing the gravity of the charges and the particular complexity of the case, and having looked into the state of the applicant’s health and not considering it to be serious enough to justify his release. The District Court found that other measures of restraint could not be applied because the circumstances which had prompted the applicant’s arrest had not changed.
- The pre-trial investigation was completed on 31 August 2005, and a week later the applicant and his lawyers commenced reading the thirty-seven-volume case file.
- In September 2005 an investigator lodged an application with the District Court, seeking a further extension of the applicant’s detention, in particular because the defence had not yet completed its study of the case file.
- On 27 September 2005 the court extended the applicant’s detention until 9 December 2005, having noted, inter alia, that the applicant had only read three, and his lawyer nine, volumes and that they therefore needed additional time. The court also reiterated its previous reasoning invoking the gravity of the charges against the applicant and his ability to hamper the proceedings if released. In addition it noted that the applicant’s personal and family situation, as well as his state of health, did not outweigh the reasons for his continued detention.
- Having finished studying the file, on 22 November 2005 the applicant was committed to stand trial before the Moscow City Court (“the City Court”).
- On 1 December 2005 the City Court scheduled a preliminary hearing and collectively extended the applicant’s and his co-defendants’ detention for an unspecified period. In so doing, the court merely referred to the absence of any change in the circumstances which had initially prompted the accuseds’ detention.
- After the preliminary hearing the City Court authorised a trial by jury, fixed the first trial hearing for 29 December 2005 and once more collectively extended the detention of the defendants, including the applicant, for an unspecified period of time, again citing exclusively the gravity of the charges.
- During a hearing of 15 February 2006 the applicant’s lawyer asked the City Court to release the applicant, arguing that his detention pending trial was not based on sufficient and valid reasons and was therefore in breach of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention. The court refused to release the applicant because the grounds which had been cited in the previous orders extending his detention had not ceased to exist.
- The applicant appealed against the decision of 15 February 2006. His statement of appeal bears the stamp of the City Court and indicates that it was lodged on 21 February 2006. Seventeen days later his lawyer received a letter from the presiding judge, stating that the appeal could not be accepted because Russian procedural law did not provide for the possibility to appeal against intermediate decisions issued by a trial court.
- In a hearing on 4 April 2006 the applicant’s lawyers again asked the City Court to release him, stating that his health had seriously deteriorated. The court refused the request, using wording identical to that of its decision of 15 February 2006.
- The applicant’s lawyers appealed. A stamp on the appeal statement indicates that it reached the City Court on 12 April 2006. Five days later the court returned the statement to the lawyers, noting that the decision of 4 April 2006 was not amenable to appeal.
- A similar request for release was lodged by the applicant’s lawyers on 19 April 2006. That request was also refused by the City Court, which ruled that the detention had been lawfully authorised on 6 December 2005 and that there were no grounds for changing the measure of restraint.
- On 6 May 2006 the City Court acquitted the applicant and his co-defendants of all charges and ordered their immediate release.
- Conditions of detention and transport
- After the arrest the applicant was placed in remand prison no. IZ-77/5 in Moscow (“the remand prison”). He argued that the conditions of his detention between 31 January and 7 February 2006 had been appalling. The facility had been overcrowded and his cell had been dirty and in a deplorable state.
- The applicant also complained about the conditions surrounding his transport to and from the courthouse. According to a certificate issued by the detention authorities on 30 July 2010, as well as the daily transport schedule submitted by the Government, on court hearing dates the applicant had risen at 6 a.m. At around 8 a.m. he had been put in a prison van and had been taken to the court house. He had come back to the remand prison at 10 p.m. Given his late return to the remand prison and subsequent body search, the applicant had allegedly only been able to go to bed at around midnight.
- On 21 March 2006 the lawyer complained to the escorting service about the late return of the applicant to the remand prison. The complaint was left unanswered. Six days later the lawyer requested the District Court not to hold hearings on Wednesdays in order to provide the applicant with the possibility to rest. The court agreed that at least one working day per week should be left free for the applicant to recover and prepare for forthcoming hearings.
- Between 15 February and 6 May 2006 the applicant took part in thirty-six hearings, with the hearings taking place on no more than four days per week.
- Medical treatment
- In 1998 the applicant suffered a craniocerebral injury; in 1999 he was treated in the S.P. Botkin Clinical Hospital in Moscow, where he was diagnosed with post-traumatic encephalopathy accompanied by hypertension-hydrocephalus syndrome, disorder of cerebrospinal fluid dynamics, vestibular coordination disorders, and symptomatic epilepsy characterised by frequent systemic convulsive attacks. The following year he was certified as having a second-degree disability.
- The parties provided differing descriptions of the applicant’s health problems and his treatment in the remand prison.
(a) The Government’s version
- According to the Government, the applicant had not had any particular health problems in detention, save for his having lost consciousness once while being transported in a prison van. He had also attempted to commit suicide. The Government stressed that he had not suffered any epileptic fits and had been regularly seen by prison doctors.
- The medical file submitted by the Government shows that on admission to the remand prison on 8 June 2005 the applicant had undergone a basic medical check-up comprising blood tests, a chest X-ray and a consultation with a prison paramedic. Having interviewed the applicant, the paramedic had noted that he had a second-degree disability. According to the medical entry, the applicant had denied having epileptic seizures. A recommendation to request the applicant’s full medical history had been made.
- In February 2006 the applicant had attempted to commit suicide by cutting his wrist. The prison paramedic had treated the cut.
- A prison paramedic had visited the applicant several times, mostly before and after his transport to the courthouse, each time noting that he was healthy.
- Once, on 12 April 2006, the applicant had been seen by a prison doctor after he had lost consciousness in a prison van. The doctor had diagnosed him with neurocirculatory dystonia and given him Corvalol.
- During the second set of the criminal proceedings (see paragraph 43 below) the applicant had been placed in remand prison no. 77/1 in Moscow, where his epilepsy had received medical attention.
(b) The applicant’s version
- According to the applicant, the medical records had not reflected his actual state of health in detention. His frequent epilepsy seizures had been disregarded by the authorities.
- On 30 October 2005 nine of the applicant’s cellmates had lodged a complaint with the detention authorities, noting the applicant’s poor health and their (that is to say, the cellmates’) inability to cope with the applicant’s health problems. According to the detainees, the applicant had had frequent epileptic seizures. Once he had fallen from the upper tier of his bunk, injuring himself and a cellmate. As a result of another seizure, he had inadvertently poured hot water over himself. The inmates had also submitted that he often talked to himself or with an imaginary interlocutor. Fearing that they might be held responsible for the applicant’s injuries sustained during the seizures, his cellmates had asked the authorities to provide him with adequate medical care and, if necessary, to admit him to a medical institution.
- Medical certificates issued by emergency medical teams called to see the applicant on 14 October 2005 and 30 March 2006 on account of his epileptic seizures had indicated that the applicant had been found by the paramedics in a post-seizure condition and provided with medication.
- The applicant had further alleged that the authorities had not provided him with the required medical attention or drugs necessary to treat his epilepsy or at least to decrease the frequency of seizures, of which they had been fully aware. Certain drugs had been sent to him by his family or friends.
- The applicant’s lawyer had interviewed three inmates who had shared a cell with the applicant between June 2005 and May 2006. They had consistently stated that the applicant’s epilepsy had been known to the detention authorities, including the resident doctor. The applicant had been initially assigned the upper-tier bunk, but on the doctor’s recommendation, he had been allowed to move to the lower tier to reduce the risk of injuries during seizures. The inmates testified to either having seen the applicant suffering a seizure or having heard about them. They also confirmed that the applicant’s family had sent him parcels with medication, which he had taken under the supervision of the resident doctor.
(c) Requests for medical examination
- On 12 October 2005 the applicant’s lawyer sent a letter to the Prosecutor General’s office asking it to authorise a complex psychological and psychiatric examination of the applicant. The lawyer insisted that the applicant’s health had seriously deteriorated during his detention, that his convulsive episodes had become too frequent, that the applicant had started suffering from occasional visual and auditory hallucinations, that he had difficulty concentrating and had experienced memory loss, and so on. Two days later the request was refused as unsubstantiated. The applicant appealed. On 4 April 2006 the District Court rejected that appeal on the merits.
- In the meantime, on 24 October 2005, in view of the deterioration of the applicant’s health, his lawyer requested the head of the remand prison and the Prosecutor General’s office to authorise a complex medical examination of the applicant by doctors from the S.P. Botkin Clinical Hospital and experts from the Main State Centre of Forensic Medical and Criminological Examinations. The head of the remand prison replied that the applicant was under the supervision of a prison doctor and that he was afforded any necessary out-patient treatment. His state of health was stable and did not require admission to a hospital. In addition, it was noted that a request for a medical examination of an inmate by civil medical specialists could only be authorised by the investigating authorities. According to the response of the Prosecutor General’s office there was no necessity to authorise a medical examination as there was no evidence that the applicant’s health had deteriorated.
- On 31 March 2006 the applicant’s lawyer unsuccessfully asked the City Court to authorise a complex medical examination of the applicant.
- Fraud case
- On 6 May 2006 an investigator from the Moscow City prosecutor’s office instituted criminal proceedings against the applicant. The investigating authorities alleged that between June 2002 and February 2003 the applicant, acting in his official capacity as a notary, together with two other individuals, had forged a will and had fraudulently acquired a flat belonging to the deceased.
- On 11 May 2006 the applicant was arrested and on the following day the Zamoskvoretskiy District Court authorised his detention on remand, which was further extended on a number of occasions.
- On 31 January 2007 the Preobrazhenksiy District Court found the applicant guilty of aggravated fraud, abuse of position and property laundering and sentenced him to nine years’ imprisonment. On 12 November 2007 the City Court upheld the judgment on appeal, amending the legal classification of the offences and reducing the sentence to eight years’ imprisonment.
- Relevant domestic law
- Health care of detainees
- The relevant provisions of the domestic and international law on general health care of detainees are set out in the following judgments: Vasyukov v. Russia (no. 2974/05, §§ 36 – 50, 5 April 2011), and Khudobin v. Russia (no. 59696/00, § 56, 26 October 2006, ECHR 2006-XII (extracts)).
- Extension of detention
- The Russian legal regulations in respect of detention during judicial proceedings are explained in the judgments of Pyatkov v. Russia (no. 61767/08, § 59, 13 November 2012), and Isayev v. Russia (no. 20756/04, §§ 67 – 80, 22 October 2009).
- Proceedings on the lawfulness of detention
- The Russian legal regulations regarding proceedings on the lawfulness of the detention are laid down in the judgment of Chuprikov v. Russia (no. 17504/07, §§ 42 – 45, 12 June 2014).
- Alleged violations of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the conditions of detention and Article 5 § 3 of the Convention on account of the detention between 11 May 2006 and 31 January 2007
- By a letter on 30 September 2015, the Government submitted a unilateral declaration with a view to resolving issues raised under Article 3 and Article 5 § 3 of the Convention. The declaration read as follows:
“I, …, the Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights, hereby declare that the Russian Government acknowledge that [the applicant] between 31 January and 7 February 2006 was detained in the IZ-77/5 facility in Moscow in conditions which did not comply with the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention,… without well-founded justification, in violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention; between 11 May 2006 and 31 January 2007 he was detained, in violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention.
The Government are ready to pay the applicant the sum of EUR 4,400 by way of just satisfaction.
The Government therefore invite the Court to strike the present case out of the list of cases. They suggest that the present declaration might be accepted by the Court as [falling under] “any other reason” justifying striking the case out of the Court’s list of cases, as referred to in Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention
The sum referred to above, which is to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, as well as costs and expenses, will be free of any taxes that may be applicable. It will be payable within three months of the date of notification of the decision taken by the Court, pursuant to Article 37 § 1 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and shall be converted into Russian roubles at the rate applicable as at the date of payment.
In the event of failure to pay this sum within the said three-month period, the Government undertake to pay simple interest on it, from the expiry of that period until settlement, at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period, plus three percentage points.
This payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.”
- The applicant did not respond to the Government’s offer.
- The Court reiterates that Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention enables it to strike a case out of its list if:
“…for any other reason established by the Court, it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the application”.
- It also points out that, in certain circumstances, it may strike out an application under Article 37 § 1 (c) on the basis of a unilateral declaration by a respondent Government even if the applicant wishes the examination of the case to be continued.
- To this end, the Court will examine the declaration carefully in the light of the principles established in its case-law, in particular the Tahsin Acar judgment (see Tahsin Acar v. Turkey (preliminary objections) [GC], no. 26307/95, §§ 75 – 77, ECHR 2003-VI; v. Poland (dec.), no. 28953/03, 18 September 2007; and WAZA z o.o. v. Poland (dec.), no. 11602/02, 26 June 2007).
- The Court is satisfied that the Government did not dispute this part of the allegations made by the applicant and explicitly acknowledged the breaches of Articles 3 in respect of the conditions of his detention and of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention in respect of the detention on remand during the second set of criminal proceedings against him.
- As to the intended redress to be provided to the applicant, the Government have undertaken to pay 4,400 euros (EUR) by way of just satisfaction. The Court notes that the proposed sum is not unreasonable in comparison with similar cases (see Cocchiarella v. Italy [GC], no. 64886/01, § 105, ECHR 2006-V). The Government have committed themselves to effecting payment of that sum within three months of the Court’s decision, with default interest to be payable in the event of a delay in settlement.
- The Court has repeatedly found violations of Articles 3 and 5 § 3 of the Convention on account of inadequate conditions of detention in Russian custodial facilities (see Ananyev and Others v. Russia, nos. 42525/07 and 60800/08, 10 January 2012) and the excessively long pre-trial detention of applicants without relevant and sufficient reasons (see, among many other authorities, Kalashnikov v. Russia, no. 47095/99, §§ 104 – 21, ECHR 2002-VI). It follows that the complaints raised in the present application are based on the clear and extensive case-law of the Court.
- The Court further notes that the Committee of Ministers remains competent to supervise, in accordance with Article 46 § 2 of the Convention, the implementation of the judgments concerning the same issues. Therefore, the Court is satisfied that respect for human rights, as defined in the Convention (Article 37 § 1 in fine), does not require it to continue the examination of this part of the application. In any event, the Court’s decision is without prejudice to any decision it might take to restore, pursuant to Article 37 § 2 of the Convention, this part of the application to its list of cases should the Government fail to comply with the terms of their unilateral declaration (see v. Serbia (dec.), no. 18369/07, 4 March 2008, and Aleksentseva and 28 Others v. Russia (dec.), nos. 75025/01 et al., 23 March 2006). The Court thus considers that it is no longer justified to continue the examination of the case in this part.
- In view of the above, it is appropriate to strike out of the list the part of the application concerning the inhuman and degrading conditions of the applicant’s detention in the remand prison between 31 January and 7 February 2006 and the lack of relevant and sufficient reasons for his detention on remand in the period between 11 May 2006 and 31 January 2007.
- Alleged violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the adequancy of medical care
- The applicant complained that he had not been afforded adequate medical treatment in detention. He relied on Article 3 of the Convention, which reads:
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
- The parties’ submissions
- The Government argued that the administrative authorities of the remand prison had not been aware of the applicant’s epilepsy and had not recorded any episodes of epileptic seizures. They argued that the applicant had been subjected to regular medical examinations in detention and had been provided with the required medical care.
- The applicant argued that the authorities had not ensured his thorough medical examination by competent doctors, that his epileptic seizures had not been recorded and that he had not received any treatment in that respect. He supported his arguments with written statements by inmates, as well as the medical records made by the ambulance teams (see paragraphs 35, 36 and 38 above).
- The Court’s assessment
- The Court further notes that the applicant’s complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention and that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
(a) General principles in respect of the Court’s evaluation of the facts and the burden of proof
- In cases in which there are conflicting accounts of events, the Court is inevitably confronted, when establishing the facts, with the same difficulties as those faced by any first-instance court. It reiterates that, in assessing evidence, it has adopted the standard of proof “beyond reasonable doubt”. However, it has never been its purpose to borrow the approach of the national legal systems that use that standard. Its role is to rule not on criminal guilt or civil liability but on Contracting States’ responsibility under the Convention. The specificity of its task under Article 19 of the Convention – to ensure the observance by the Contracting States of their engagement to secure the fundamental rights enshrined in the Convention – conditions its approach to the issues of evidence and proof. In proceedings before the Court there are no procedural barriers to the admissibility of evidence or pre-determined formulae for its assessment. It adopts conclusions that are, in its view, supported by the free evaluation of all evidence, including such inferences as may flow from the facts and the parties’ submissions. In accordance with its established case-law, proof may follow from the coexistence of sufficiently strong, clear and concordant inferences or of similar unrebutted presumptions of fact. Moreover, the level of persuasion necessary for reaching a particular conclusion and, in this connection, the distribution of the burden of proof, are intrinsically linked to the specificity of the facts, the nature of the allegation made and the Convention right at stake. The Court is also attentive to the seriousness that attaches to a ruling that a Contracting State has violated fundamental rights (see v. Romania [GC], no. 29226/03, § 88, 23 February 2012, and the cases cited therein).
- Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Convention proceedings do not in all cases lend themselves to a strict application of the principle affirmanti incumbit probatio (that is to say, the principle that the burden of proof lies on the person making the allegation in question). The Court reiterates its case-law under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention to the effect that – where the events at issue lie within the exclusive knowledge of the authorities, as in the case of persons under their control in custody – strong presumptions of fact will arise in respect of injuries, damage and death occurring during that detention. The burden of proof in such a case may be regarded as resting on the authorities to provide a satisfactory and convincing explanation (see v. Turkey [GC], no. 23657/94, § 85, ECHR 1999-IV; Salman v. Turkey [GC], no. 21986/93, § 100, ECHR 2000-VII; and Oleg Nikitin v. Russia, no. 36410/02, § 45, 9 October 2008). In the absence of such an explanation the Court can draw inferences which may be unfavourable for the respondent Government (see, for instance, Buntov v. Russia, no. 27026/10, § 161, 5 June 2012, and Orhan v. Turkey, no. 25656/94, § 274, 18 June 2002).
(b) General principles as regards the standards of medical care for detainees
- The Court reiterates that Article 3 of the Convention enshrines one of the most fundamental values of democratic society. It prohibits in absolute terms torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, irrespective of the circumstances and the victim’s behaviour (see, for example, Labita v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 119, ECHR 2000-IV). Ill-treatment must, however, attain a minimum level of severity if it is to fall within the scope of Article 3 of the Convention. The assessment of this minimum is relative: it depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the duration of the treatment, its physical and mental effects and, in some cases, the sex, age and state of health of the victim (see, among other authorities, Ireland v. the United Kingdom, 18 January 1978, § 162, Series A no. 25).
- Ill-treatment that attains such a minimum level of severity usually involves actual bodily injury or intense physical or mental suffering. However, even in the absence of these, where treatment humiliates or debases an individual, showing a lack of respect for or diminishing his or her human dignity, or arouses feelings of fear, anguish or inferiority capable of breaking an individual’s moral and physical resistance, it may be characterised as degrading and also fall within the prohibition of Article 3 of the Convention (see Pretty v. the United Kingdom, no. 2346/02, § 52, ECHR 2002-III, with further references).
- The State must ensure that a person is detained in conditions which are compatible with respect for human dignity, that the manner and method of the execution of the measure of deprivation of liberty do not subject him to distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that, given the practical demands of imprisonment, his health and well-being are adequately secured (see v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, §§ 92 – 94, ECHR 2000-XI, and Popov v. Russia, no. 26853/04, § 208, 13 July 2006). In most cases concerning the detention of sick people, the Court has examined whether or not the applicant received adequate medical care in prison. The Court reiterates in this regard that even though Article 3 of the Convention does not entitle a detainee to be released “on compassionate grounds”, it has always interpreted the requirement to ensure that the health and well-being of detainees are adequately secured as an obligation on the part of the State to provide detainees with the requisite medical assistance (see , cited above, § 94; Khudobin, cited above, § 96; and Kalashnikov v. Russia, no. 47095/99, § 95, ECHR 2002-VI).
- The “adequacy” of medical assistance remains the most difficult element to determine. The Court insists, in particular, that authorities must ensure that diagnosis and care are prompt and accurate (see Khatayev v. Russia, no. 56994/09, § 85, 11 October 2011; Yevgeniy Alekseyenko v. Russia, no. 41833/04, § 100, 27 January 2011; Gladkiy v. Russia, no. 3242/03, § 84, 21 December 2010; Hummatov v. Azerbaijan, nos. 9852/03 and 13413/04, § 115, 29 November 2007; Melnik v. Ukraine, no. 72286/01, §§ 104 – 06, 28 March 2006; and, mutatis mutandis, Holomiov v. Moldova, no. 30649/05, § 121, 7 November 2006) and that – where necessitated by the nature of a medical condition – supervision is regular and systematic and involves a comprehensive therapeutic strategy aimed at successfully treating the detainee’s health problems or preventing their aggravation (see Hummatov, cited above, §§ 109 and 114, and Sarban v. Moldova, no. 3456/05, § 79, 4 October 2005). The Court reiterates that medical treatment within prison facilities must be appropriate and comparable to the quality of treatment which the State authorities have committed themselves to providing for the entirety of the population. Nevertheless, this does not mean that each detainee must be guaranteed the same level of medical treatment that is available in the best health establishments outside prison facilities (see Blokhin v. Russia [GC], no. 47152/06, § 137, 23 March 2016, and Cara-Damiani v. Italy, no. 2447/05, § 66, 7 February 2012).
- On the whole, the Court reserves a fair degree of flexibility in defining the required standard of health care, deciding it on a case-by-case basis. That standard should be “compatible with the human dignity” of a detainee, but should also take into account “the practical demands of imprisonment” (see Aleksanyan v. Russia, no. 46468/06, § 140, 22 December 2008).
(c) Application of the above principles to the present case
- Turning to the circumstances of the present case, the Court observes that the parties submitted conflicting descriptions of the applicant’s state of health and the treatment afforded to him. The applicant stated that he had suffered from epileptic seizures and that the authorities, while aware of his condition, had remained idle. The Government argued that the applicant had not informed the authorities of his epilepsy and that he had not had any seizures in detention.
- The Government based their arguments on the applicant’s medical records, drawn up by a prison paramedic, which did not contain any entries related to the applicant’s epilepsy (see paragraphs 29 – 32 above).
- The applicant challenged the completeness and validity of the records, relying on the written complaint to the detention authorities by the nine inmates (see paragraph 35 above) and the records of the interviews with the three detainees (see paragraph 38 above). The statements described the applicant’s grave health condition and several instances of an epileptic seizure. Two of the episodes of epileptic seizures had occurred during the court hearings and were recorded by the emergency teams in attendance at the time (see paragraph 36 above).
- The above facts accord with the applicant’s previous medical history of epilepsy. Taken together, it refutes the Government’s allegations that the authorities had been unaware of the applicant’s medical condition, and in particular his epilepsy (and the fact that he experienced occasional epileptic seizures) and accordingly his need for anti-epilepsy treatment. The Court therefore accepts that the medical records of the applicant drawn up by the prison paramedic were incomplete and did not reflect his actual state of health. It will accordingly draw inferences from the authorities’ failure to keep proper medical records in the applicant’s case.
- The Court further observes that upon his admission to the remand prison the applicant informed the medical authorities of his disability (see paragraph 29 above). However, this did not prompt the prison authorities to look into the nature of that disability; nor did it prompt them to try to obtain the applicant’s previous medical history, despite the fact that it had been explicitly recommended that this be requested (see paragraph 29 above). The applicant was placed in a regular prison facility. For months after his arrest his health was monitored, mostly by a prison paramedic, who, for unknown reasons, completely disregarded the applicant’s condition and did not record the epileptic seizures which occurred, according to the evidence before the Court, on several occasions – both in the remand prison and in the court house. In this respect, the Court would note that although the emergency teams’ records were attached to the applicant’s medical file, the prison medical authorities took no account of the contents of those records.
- Moreover, as can be seen from the inmates’ statements, the applicant demonstrated other disturbing tendencies in his behaviour, which were most probably linked to the state of his health and which could not have remained unnoticed by the authorities, particularly in view of the fact that they had received the inmates’ complaint to that effect. It appears that the authorities did not give any weight to the seriousness of the applicant’s seizures and the accompanying risks, ranging from trauma to the detrimental effect of repeated seizures on the brain and even sudden, disease-related death. In these circumstances, the Court also finds that the lack of any information in the prison record about the applicant’s medical treatment in detention leads to the conclusion that he was not subjected to any medical examination and that he did not receive the treatment required for his epilepsy. The situation was further aggravated by the authorities’ persistent refusals to authorise an in-depth medical examination of the applicant to assess the state of his illness and to formulate the appropriate anti-epilepsy therapy (see paragraphs 39 – 41 above).
- Accordingly, the Court notes a grave failure on the part of the Russian authorities to acknowledge the applicant’s medical needs and afford him the appropriate level of the medical care in detention. As a result of the authorities’ failure to provide the applicant with the medical care he needed he was exposed to prolonged mental and physical suffering, diminishing his human dignity. The authorities’ failure amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention.
- Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on that account.
III. Alleged violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention on account of the detention between 24 May 2005 and 6 May 2006
- The applicant complained that his pre-trial detention had been counter to the “reasonable time” requirement set out in Article 5 § 3 of the Convention, which reads, in so far as relevant, as follows:
“Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be… entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.”
- The parties’ submissions
- The Government submitted that the applicant’s pre-trial detention had been based on relevant grounds. The domestic courts had taken into account the fact that he had been charged with a serious crime, and that there would have been a risk of his absconding or hampering the investigation if he had been release. Having duly assessed the applicant’s personal situation, the state of his health and the diligence of the investigative authorities, the domestic courts had complied with the requirements of the Convention.
- The applicant maintained his complaint. He considered that his pre-trial detention had not been based on relevant and sufficient reasons. He claimed that the detention orders had lacked any sound ground and had been issued without an in-depth assessment of the circumstances of his case.
- The Court’s assessment
- The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
(a) General principles
- The persistence of reasonable suspicion that the person arrested has committed an offence is a conditio sine qua non for the lawfulness of his or her continued detention, whatever other grounds may exist. In such cases, the Court must establish whether the other grounds given by the judicial authorities continued to justify the deprivation of liberty. Where such grounds are found to have been “relevant” and “sufficient”, the Court must also ascertain whether the competent national authorities displayed “special diligence” in the conduct of the proceedings. The presumption is in favour of release. As the Court has consistently held, the second limb of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention does not give judicial authorities a choice between either bringing an accused to trial within a reasonable time or granting him provisional release pending trial. Until his conviction, the accused must be presumed innocent, and the purpose of the provision under consideration is essentially to require his provisional release once his continued detention ceases to be reasonable. A person charged with an offence must always be released pending trial unless the State can show that there are “relevant and sufficient” reasons to justify his or her continued detention (see, among other authorities, Castravet v. Moldova, no. 23393/05, §§ 30 and 32, 13 March 2007; McKay v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 543/03, § 41, ECHR 2006-X; v. Poland, no. 33492/96, § 83, 21 December 2000; and Neumeister v. Austria, 27 June 1968, § 4, Series A no. 8). Article 5 § 3 of the Convention cannot be seen as unconditionally authorising detention provided that it lasts no longer than a certain period. Justification for any period of detention, no matter how short, must be convincingly demonstrated by the authorities (see Shishkov v. Bulgaria, no. 38822/97, § 66, ECHR 2003-I (extracts)).
- It is incumbent on the domestic authorities to establish the existence of specific facts relevant to the grounds for continued detention. Shifting the burden of proof to the detained person in such matters is tantamount to overturning the rule of Article 5 of the Convention, a provision which makes detention an exceptional departure from the right to liberty and one that is only permissible in exhaustively enumerated and strictly defined cases (see Rokhlina v. Russia, no. 54071/00, § 67, 7 April 2005, and Ilijkov v. Bulgaria, no. 33977/96, §§ 84 – 85, 26 July 2001). The national judicial authorities must examine all the facts arguing for or against the existence of a genuine public interest requirement justifying, with due regard to the principle of the presumption of innocence, a departure from the rule of respect for individual liberty, and must set them out in their decisions dismissing the applications for release. It is not the Court’s task to establish such facts and take the place of the national authorities which ruled on the applicant’s detention. It is essentially on the basis of the reasons given in the domestic courts’ decisions and of the established facts mentioned by the applicant in his appeals that the Court is called upon to decide whether or not there has been a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention (see Korchuganova v. Russia, no. 75039/01, § 72, 8 June 2006; Ilijkov, cited above, § 86; and Labita, cited above, § 152).
(b) Application to the present case
- The applicant was arrested on 24 May 2005 and was released on 6 May 2006. The period to be taken into consideration therefore lasted for more than eleven months.
- The Court has already, on a large number of occasions, examined applications against Russia raising similar complaints under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention in respect of the Russian courts’ failure to provide sufficient and relevant grounds for applicants’ detention (see, among many others, Dirdizov v. Russia, no. 41461/10, §§ 108 – 11, 27 November 2012; Valeriy Samoylov v. Russia, no. 57541/09, 24 January 2012; Romanova v. Russia, no. 23215/02, 11 October 2011; Khodorkovskiy v. Russia, no. 5829/04, 31 May 2011; Sutyagin v. Russia, no. 30024/02, 3 May 2011; Logvinenko v. Russia, no. 44511/04, 17 June 2010; Goroshchenya v. Russia, no. 38711/03, 22 April 2010; Gultyayeva v. Russia, no. 67413/01, 1 April 2010; Makarenko v. Russia, no. 5962/03, 22 December 2009; Lamazhyk v. Russia, no. 20571/04, 30 July 2009; Avdeyev and Veryayev v. Russia, no. 2737/04, 9 July 2009; Aleksandr Makarov v. Russia, no. 15217/07, 12 March 2009; Matyush v. Russia, no. 14850/03, 9 December 2008; Belov v. Russia, no. 22053/02, 3 July 2008; Shukhardin v. Russia, no. 65734/01, 28 June 2007; Mishketkul and Others v. Russia, no. 36911/02, 24 May 2007; Ignatov v. Russia, no. 27193/02, 24 May 2007; Solovyev v. Russia, no. 2708/02, 24 May 2007; Pshevecherskiy v. Russia, no. 28957/02, 24 May 2007; Mamedova v. Russia, no. 7064/05, 1 June 2006; Rokhlina v. Russia, no. 54071/00, 7 April 2005; Panchenko v. Russia, no. 45100/98, 8 February 2005; and Khudoyorov v. Russia, no. 6847/02, ECHR 2005-X (extracts)). Each time, having found a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention, the Court noted the fragility of the reasoning employed by the Russian courts to authorise an applicant’s remaining in custody. From case to case it pointed out the following major defects in the courts’ argumentation: reliance on the gravity of the charges as the primary source to justify the risk of the applicant’s absconding; a suspicion, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, that the applicant would tamper with witnesses or use his connections in state bodies to obstruct justice; a failure to thoroughly examine the possibility of applying another, less rigid, measure of restraint, such as bail; and the collective extension of the applicant’s and his co-defendants’ detention without due regard to the individual circumstances of each of the accused.
- The Court observes that the Russian courts did not avoid that pattern of reasoning in the present case. They consistently relied on the gravity of the charges and the possibility of the applicant absconding and obstructing justice, having based their fear on the same set of assumptions as in the cases cited above. The Court notes that, while accepting the investigators’ allegations that the applicant was likely to avoid or pervert the course of justice, the courts gave no heed to important and relevant facts that supported the applicant’s pleas for liberty and reduced the risks of absconding or collusion. Those the Court can identify include the applicant’s fragile health, his strong community ties, and the lack of any evidence that he had ever attempted to contact the victims or witnesses in the course of the criminal proceedings. In these circumstances, the Court concludes that the domestic courts failed to analyse the applicant’s personal situation and to give detailed and specific reasons, supported by evidentiary findings, for holding him in custody.
- Having regard to the above, the Court considers that by failing to refer to specific relevant facts or to properly consider alternative “preventive measures”, the authorities extended the applicant’s detention on grounds which cannot be regarded as “sufficient”. They thus failed to justify the applicant’s continued deprivation of liberty for a period of almost a year. It is hence not necessary to examine whether the proceedings against the applicant were conducted with due diligence during that period, as such a lengthy period cannot in the circumstances be regarded as “reasonable” within the meaning of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention (see Pekov v. Bulgaria, no. 50358/99, § 85, 30 March 2006).
- There has therefore been a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s detention between 24 May 2005 and 6 May 2006.
- Alleged violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention
- The applicant complained that he had been denied the right to an effective judicial review of the court decisions of 15 February and 4 April 2006 rejecting his application for release. He relied on Article 5 § 4 of the Convention, which provides as follows:
“Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.”
- The parties’ submissions
- The Government submitted that the applicant’s case file did not contain any information supporting the applicant’s submission that he had appealed against the decision of 15 February 2006. They further submitted that Russian law did not provide the applicant with an avenue for appealing the decisions in question, as they were intermediate court decisions rendered in the course of the trial. They alleged that there had been no violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention.
- The applicant maintained his complaints.
- The Court’s assessment
- The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
(a) General principles
- The Court reiterates that Article 5 § 4 of the Convention entitles arrested or detained persons to a review bearing upon the procedural and substantive conditions which are essential for the “lawfulness”, in Convention terms, of their deprivation of liberty. This means that the competent court has to examine not only compliance with the procedural requirements of domestic law but also the reasonableness of the suspicion underpinning the arrest and the legitimacy of the purpose pursued by the arrest and the ensuing detention (see Grauslys v. Lithuania, no. 36743/97, § 53, 10 October 2000). In order to satisfy the requirements of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention, a “review of the lawfulness of the applicant’s detention” must comply with both the substantive and the procedural rules of the national legislation and moreover be conducted in conformity with the aim of Article 5 of the Convention, namely to protect the individual against arbitrariness (see Keus v. the Netherlands, 25 October 1990, § 24, Series A no. 185-C).
(b) Application of those principles in the present case
- Turning to the circumstances of the present case the Court firstly observes, as regards the Government’s argument that the applicant did not appeal against the decision of 15 February 2006, that he provided the Court with a copy of the appeal statement bearing the stamp of the Moscow City Court. He also submitted the City Court’s letter informing him of the refusal to grant leave to appeal. Therefore the Court has no doubt that the impugned appeal statement was in fact lodged.
- The Court further observes that the City Court refused to examine the appeal against the decisions of 15 February and 4 April 2006, having concluded that they were not amenable to appeal as they had been issued in the course of the trial (see paragraphs 17 and 19 above).
- The Court has already examined a similar issue in the cases of Makarenko (cited above, §§ 121 – 25) and Chuprikov (cited above, §§ 83 – 87). In these cases it considered that, in violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention, the applicants’ appeals had not received an adequate judicial response. The Court sees no reason to reach a different conclusion in the present case. It follows that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention on account of the failure to examine the applicant’s appeals against the decisions of 15 February and 4 April 2004 refusing the requests for his release from detention.
- Other alleged violations of the Convention
- The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention of the authorities’ failure to ensure that he enjoyed eight hours’ sleep on court hearing days. The Court has already examined a similar issue in the case of Bagel v. Russia (no. 37810/03, § 70, 15 November 2007), concluding that the six hours’ sleep afforded to the applicant in that case on the days of his participation in court hearings did not reach the threshold proscribed by Article 3 of the Convention. Turning to the circumstances of the present case, the Court sees no reason to reach a different conclusion. The applicant had no less than six hours of sleep per night. Moreover, the authorities took steps to ensure that he had enough sleep during at least three nights per week (when he did not take part in court hearings). The Court also does not lose sight of the fact that Wednesdays were chosen as days to allow the applicant to recover from participating in court proceedings and any possible shortage of sleep suffered during the week. Lastly, the situation only continued for a short period of time during the trial. Accordingly, this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
- The Court has also examined other complaints submitted by the applicant. However, having regard to all the material in its possession, and in so far as those complaints fall within the Court’s competence, it finds that they do not disclose any 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 also rejected as being manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
- 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 did not claim compensation for pecuniary or non-pecuniary damage.
- Accordingly, the Court considers that there is no call to award him any sum on that account.
- Costs and expenses
- The applicant claimed 3,150 euros (EUR) for legal services.
- The Government argued that the claim was ill-founded.
- According to the Court’s case-law, an applicant is entitled to the reimbursement of costs and expenses in so far as it has been shown that these have been actually and necessarily incurred and are reasonable as to quantum. Given that Mr Yavorskiy and Ms Liptser represented the applicant throughout the proceedings before the national authorities and before the Court, having prepared a number of submissions in the applicant’s defence, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sum claimed in full, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant on that amount.
- 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,
- Decides, having regard to the terms of the Government’s declaration, and the modalities for ensuring compliance with the undertakings referred to therein, to strike the application out of its list of cases in accordance with Article 37 § 1 (c) of the Convention in so far as it concerns the complaints under Articles 3 and 5 § 3 of the Convention about the inhuman and degrading conditions of the applicant’s detention in remand prison no. IZ-77/5 in Moscow between 31 January and 7 February 2006 and the lack of relevant and sufficient reasons for his detention on remand between 11 May 2006 and 31 January 2007;
- Declares the complaint under Article 3 of the Convention concerning the lack of adequate medical assistance in detention, the complaint under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention in respect of the period of the applicant’s detention from 24 May 2005 to 6 May 2006, and the complaint under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention admissible, and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
- Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the lack of adequate medical assistance in detention;
- Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s detention between 24 May 2005 and 6 May 2006;
- Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention EUR 3,150 (three thousand one hundred and fifty euros) in respect of costs and expenses, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant on that amount. This amount is to be converted into the national 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.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 24 May 2016, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Luis GUERRA President
Stephen PHILLIPS Registrar