Court: Skopje authorities took too long to jail violent robber living close to assault victims

Human rights judges say Skopje’s authorities took too long to jail a convicted robber, who lived close to one of the victims he had seriously assaulted.

In its 13 October judgment in the case of Kitanovska Stanojkovic and Others v. “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (application no. 2319/14) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a procedural violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Following the decision and as just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” was to pay the applicants 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,420 for costs and expenses.

The case concerned the delayed enforcement of the sentence imposed on one of the assailants found guilty of seriously assaulting a couple during a robbery of their home.

Kitanovska Stanojkovik, the first applicant, was very seriously injured and her husband later died from his injuries.

The assailants were convicted in a final judgment of November 2012. One of the assailants continued living in the vicinity of the applicants’ neighbourhood until July 2014 when he started serving his sentence.

The court did not criticise the criminal proceedings in the case, which had established the circumstances of the assault and identified those responsible.

An effective criminal investigation must however extend to prompt enforcement of the punishment imposed. In the applicants’ case, that requirement had been undermined by the delayed enforcement – 18 months – of the custodial sentence, which had been entirely attributable to the relevant authorities.

Notably, the delay had occurred due to a lack of coordination between two departments of the same court and the lack of an enforcement judge who could deal with the case.

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