The European Court of Human Rights ruled in a Hungarian pre-trial detention case on 16 April 2013 that Hungary had violated Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant was represented by the HHC.
The case concerned Mr A.B.’s complaint about his pre-trial detention from January 2007 to December 2008. The applicant’s detention was repeatedly prolonged due to risk of collusion and intimidation of witnesses.
Relying on Article 5 (3) and (4) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the HHC’s co-chair, who represented the applicant before the European Court of Human Rights, complained about the excessive length of the applicant’s pre-trial detention as well as about not being able to effectively challenge his detention because he was not given access to relevant material in the investigation on his case.
The European Court of Human Rights found that the grounds for the applicant’s detention – in particular when it continued after indictment – were not sufficient and concluded that there has been a violation of Article 5 (3) of the Convention (entitlement to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial). Furthermore, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that the Hungarian Government have failed to provide evidence that the requisite access was indeed made available to the applicant in terms of the case file, and it follows that the principle of “equality of arms” cannot be considered to have been respected in the case. Accordingly, the ECtHR concluded that there has also been a violation of Article 5 (4) of the Convention (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court).
The decision in the case A.B. v. Hungary (Application no. 33292/09, Judgment of 16 April 2013) is available here.