Italy: Anti-crime control measures human rights dispute nears judgement

Newt week, judges will deliver their judgement in a complaint concerning the use of special police supervision as a means of controlling an Italian man considered dangerous.

The European Court of Human Rights will be delivering a Grand Chamber judgment in the case of de Tommaso v. Italy (application no. 43395/09) at a public hearing on 23 February.

The applicant, Angelo de Tommaso, is an Italian national who was born in 1963 and lives in Bari.

The measure entailing special police supervision, imposed on the applicant by the Bari District Court in a decision of 11 April 2008, was proposed for the following reason: bearing in mind his previous convictions for drug trafficking, escaping detention and unlawful possession of weapons, the applicant was associated with criminals and thus considered dangerous.

The court found that the applicant had “active” criminal tendencies, and there was also evidence to suggest that he had derived most of his means of subsistence from criminal activity.

In addition, he had persisted in his criminal conduct, having been prosecuted for breaches of the terms of his supervision order committed on 25 April 2007 and 29 April 2007.

The measure of special supervision entailed certain obligations for the applicant, including: reporting once a week to the police, looking for work within a month, living in Bari, not associating with persons who had a criminal record and were subject to preventive or security measures, not returning home later than 10 p.m. or leaving home before 7 a.m., not keeping or carrying any weapons, not going to bars or nightclubs, not attending public meetings and not using mobile phones or radio communication devices.

On 31 July 2008, the Bari prefecture revoked the applicant’s driving licence.

Relying on Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 (freedom of movement) to the Convention, de Tommaso submitted that the preventive measure imposed on him had been arbitrary and applicable for an excessive duration, seeing that the Court of Appeal gave its ruling seven months after he had lodged his
appeal, whereas the law laid down a time-limit of 30 days.

The applicant further complained, under Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair hearing), that the proceedings before the divisions of the District Court and the Court of Appeal specialising in the application of preventive measures had not taken place in public. Also under Article 6 § 1, the applicant alleged that the proceedings resulting in the imposition of preventive measures had been unfair in various respects.

Lastly, de Tommaso complained that Italian law had not afforded him an effective remedy in respect of his complaint under Article 5, particularly in that it had not provided for the right to compensation.

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