CASE OF GRAUSLYS V. LITHUANIA – Application no. 36743/97
On 2 April 1997 Mr Algis Grauslys applied to the European Commission of Human Rights against the Republic of Lithuania under former Article 25 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Mr Grauslys was a commercial director in a private company. He was suspected of fraud. On 4 October 1995 a criminal case was initiated against him. Mr Grauslys was arrested on 25 March 1996. His detention on remand was authorized by a prosecutor on 26 March 1996. From 9 October until 5 December 1996 there was no valid domestic decision or other lawful basis for his detention on remand in breach of Article 5 of the Convention. Furthermore, throughout the whole period of his detention, from 25 March 1996 to 17 February 1997, he was never brought before a judge or other officer, in breach of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention.
Issue: Mr Grauslys alleged that there had been violations of Articles 5 § 1, 3, 4 and 6 § 1 of the Convention
Decision of the Court on the alleged violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention
Holdings: Yes, there was a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.
The Court noted that the expressions “lawful” and “in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law” in Article 5 § 1 of the Convention essentially refer back to national law and state the obligation to conform to the substantive and procedural rules thereof. However, the “lawfulness” of detention under domestic law is not always the decisive element. The Court must in addition be satisfied that detention during the period under consideration was compatible with the purpose of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention, which is to prevent persons from being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary fashion. The Court must moreover ascertain whether domestic law itself is in conformity with the Convention, including the general principles.
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.
The Court noted that during the initial period of Mr Grauslys’ detention from 25 March to 21 June 1996 Lithuania was under no obligation to bring Mr Grauslys promptly before a proper officer as a result of the Lithuanian reservation to Article 5 § 3 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 confirmed 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. Article 5 § 4 guarantees no right, as such, to an appeal against decisions ordering or extending detention, but the intervention of a judicial organ at least at one instance must comply with the guarantees of Article 5 § 4.
Decision of the Court on the alleged violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention
Holdings: Yes, there was a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
According to the Court’s case-law, the reasonableness of the length of proceedings must be assessed in light of the particular circumstances of the case and having regard to the criteria laid down in the Court’s case-law, in particular the complexity of the case and the conduct of the applicant and of the authorities dealing with the case.
Costs and expenses: The Court held that Lithuania was to pay Mr Grauslys 40,000 LTL in respect of non-pecuniary damages and 20,000 LTL for legal costs and expenses, plus any value-added tax that may be chargeable.