Convict claims human rights breach after Romania bans rape victim court questions

A man jailed for rape will find out tomorrow if judges accept that Romania breached human rights law by not allowing him to question the victim in court.

The European Court of Human Rights will publish its decision on the complaint Şandru v. Romania (no. 33882/05) on Tuesday 15 October.

The applicant, Alexandru Şandru, is a Romanian national who was born in 1985 and lives in Râmnicu Vâlcea (Romania). The case concerns his trial for rape in 2006, and his pre-trial detention.

On 8 April 2005, he was arrested and detained. He was held in pre-trial detention until 31 March 2006, when he was convicted and sentenced to 2 years and 6 months’ imprisonment. Şandru appealed both the conviction and the sentence. However, the prosecutor and victim also appealed the sentence and in September 2006 an appeal court upheld the conviction, while increasing the sentence to seven years’ imprisonment.

Şandru relies on Article 5 § 3 (right to liberty and security) to complain that he was held in pre-trial detention for an excessively long period. He also relies on Article 5 § 4 (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court) to complain that, when the Romanian courts periodically reviewed his pre-trial detention in July and August 2005 he was not legally represented, and on other such occasions he was not brought before the court.

Finally, he relies on Article 6 (right to a fair trial and right to obtain attendance and examination of witnesses), to complain that his trial, sentence and subsequent appeals were unfair since he was not provided with an opportunity to question the victim.

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