ECtHR: (mal)functioning of the criminal justice system leads to multiple infringements
In its judgment in Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev v. Russia, handed down today, the ECtHR has found several breaches of the applicants’ rights to a fair trial (Article 6 ECHR), to no punishment without law (Article 7 ECHR), and to private and family life (Article 8 ECHR). The case concerned the second criminal trial of two former senior executives at the Yukos oil company.
According to the Strasbourg-based Court, the trial judge infringed Article 6 ECHR in many ways, inter alia by prohibiting defendants from cross-examining witnesses for the prosecution; by refusing to admit most of the defence’s proposed expert evidence; by refusing to admit exculpatory material to the case file, or to order the disclosure of exculpatory material; and by holding the applicants in a glass dock, which had reduced their direct involvement in the trial and had separated them from their lawyers, thus making confidential contact impossible. Additionally, the ECtHR considered Article 7 ECHR was violated because the applicants suffered an unforeseeable detrimental application of domestic criminal law. The breach of Article 8 ECHR resulted from the failure to allow long-term family visits during the period of preventative detention.
However, the Court unanimously found that there was no violation of Article 6 ECHR concerning the presumption of innocence and the independence and impartiality of the trial judge with regard to comments during the trial made by Vladimir Putin, prime minister at the time.
The judgment is available here.