Arminas Graužinis applied to the European Commission of Human Rights under former Article 25 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Mr Graužinis alleged violations of Article 5 § 3 and 4 of the Convention in that he was repeatedly not brought before a judge and he could not contest the lawfulness of his detention.
Mr Graužinis was arrested on 19 May 1997 because an owner of a café alleged that Mr Graužinis had beaten him and threatened to take control of his property. Klaipėda City District Court issued a detention order against Mr Graužinis. On 17 July 1997 the Klaipėda City District Court extended the term of Mr Graužinis’ detention in his absence but with his counsel present. On 5 September 1997 Mr Graužinis appealed, claiming inter alia that his detention on remand was unlawful under domestic law and the Convention. He alleged in particular that the decision was arbitrary, as the court had presented no facts in support of its conclusion that he might abscond or influence witnesses. He requested bail. He finally complained that on 16 October 1997 the judge of the Klaipėda City District Court extended the term of his detention without hearing the parties, thereby breaching the applicant’s right to contest the lawfulness of his detention by way of an adversarial procedure. On 24 February 1998 the Klaipėda District Court convicted him. He was sentenced to 1 year and 4 months’ imprisonment. He did not appeal against the first instance judgment.
Issue: Mr Graužinis invoked Article 5 § 3 and 4 of the Convention in that he was repeatedly not brought before a judge and he could not contest the lawfulness of his detention.
Decision of the Court on the alleged violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention
Holdings: No, there was no violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention.
Court’s Rationale: Mr Graužinis complained that in the months after his arrest he was repeatedly not brought before a judge. The Court noted that Mr Graužinis was brought before a judge two days following his arrest. The guarantee of Article 5 § 3 was therefore met in the present case. The Court considers that the Mr Graužinis’s complaint that in the course of several months following his arrest he was repeatedly not brought before a judge falls to be examined under Article 5 § 4 of the Convention.
Decision of the Court on the alleged violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention
Holdings: Yes, there was a violation of Article 5 § 4 of the Convention.
The Court recalled that Article 5 § 4 of the Convention entitles arrested or detained persons to take proceedings bearing upon the procedural and substantive conditions which are essential for the “lawfulness”, in Convention terms, of their deprivation of liberty.
In addition, the domestic court dealing with such matters must provide the “guarantees of a judicial procedure”. The proceedings must be adversarial and must always ensure equality of arms between the parties – the prosecutor and the detainee. In the case of a person whose detention falls within the ambit of Article 5 § 1 (c), a hearing is required.
Costs and expenses: Lithuania was ordered to pay Mr Graužinis 5,000 LTL in respect of non-pecuniary damages and 3,000 LTL for legal costs and expenses, plus any value-added tax that may be chargeable.