Human rights judges ruled today that a Moldovan police entrapment sting, to catch a fake identity card crook, breached European human rights law.
Morari v. the Republic of Moldova (application no. 65311/09)
The applicant, Oleg Morari, is a Moldovan national who was born in 1979 and lives in Chisinau.
In December 2008, Morari was convicted of participating in the production of a false Romanian identity card. His conviction was based on evidence obtained during an undercover operation.
Notably, in January 2008, the Balti police had placed an advertisement in a newspaper concerning help in obtaining passports to which Morari had replied. Following the telephone call, he met with an undercover agent who said that he was also looking to obtain a Romanian passport.
Both men agreed to keep one another informed if they found an easy way to obtain a passport.
A few weeks later the agent contacted Morari to enquire whether he had made any progress in his search. Morari informed the agent that he had found a person who could help and, when the agent refused to contact this person directly but proposed a deal involving one of his acquaintances (another undercover agent), agreed to act as an intermediary in the arrangement.
On concluding the deal in April 2008, he was arrested by the police.
The first-instance court did not consider Morari’s entrapment plea. The two higher courts which examined his appeal and appeal on points of law (in March 2009 and July 2009, respectively) examined his allegation of entrapment but dismissed it on the ground that it was Morari who had been the first to call the telephone number in the advertisement.
All the courts refused to hear the undercover agents, finding that according to the law, they could be heard only if they consented to having their identities disclosed.
Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Morari alleged that he had been a victim of police entrapment and that the courts had failed to examine
this complaint in the proceedings against him.
Violation of Article 6 § 1
Just satisfaction: 3,500 euros (EUR) (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 1,820 (costs and expenses)