Case Law 11106/2004; 11108/2004; 11116/2004; 11311/2004; 13276/2004 (31/07/2007)
Authority: European Authorities: European Court of human rights
Subject: Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial), the applicants complained that one of the judges, Judge G., had lacked the requisite impartiality in the trial before the High Court because she had taken part in the decision of 1 July 2002 to extend, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the fourth applicant’s detention. The remaining applicants claimed that, even though only the fourth applicant was directly concerned, the decision of 1 July 2002 had contained some general comments about the motor cyclist milieu to which they all belonged. They also all alleged that that shortcoming had been aggravated by the fact that one of the members of the jury, juror W., at the High Court trial had been disqualified as she had given a witness statement to the police concerning the case.
The Court observed that the decision to extend the fourth applicant’s detention had been taken in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure which required a definite suspicion that he had committed the offence. It further observed that, without the professional judges’ endorsement, the fourth applicant could not have been convicted by the High Court. That made tenuous the difference between Judge G.’s role in deciding about the extension of the fourth applicant’s detention and then assessing whether to endorse the High Court jury’s verdict. Furthermore, Judge G. also took part in the sentencing of the fourth applicant. The Court therefore found that the fourth applicant had legitimate grounds for fearing that the High Court had lacked the requisite impartiality and held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1. However, the Court found that Judge G.’s statements about the motor cyclist milieu had not included an assessment about whether there was a definite suspicion that the remaining applicants had committed the offence, but had referred to a different issue, that is to say whether the fourth applicant’s release would have caused a public outcry. Therefore it found that the remaining applicants’ fears could not be objectively justified. As concerned juror W’s participation, the Court found that the nature, timing and short duration of her involvement in the proceedings could not cause the applicants to have doubts as to the impartiality of the jury. The Court therefore held, by four votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 6 § 1 concerning juror W's participation.
Parties: Ekeberg e altri c/ Norvegia
Classification: Justice - Art. 47 Right to an effective remedy before a tribunal - Independent and impartial tribunal