European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Greece: Court makes ruling in migrant smuggler human rights complaint

Human rights judges have ruled that the lengthy appeal proceedings did not result in a migrant smuggler serving a longer jail sentence.

The case Fırat v. Greece (application no. 46005/11), brought by Turkish national Celal Fırat, concerned criminal proceedings relating to the conviction of a migrant smuggler who complained, firstly, of the length of the criminal proceedings before the Court of Appeal and the lack of a remedy by which to assert that complaint, and secondly, of having served a longer sentence than should have been the case because of the duration of the appeal proceedings following the lengthy adjournment of the hearing.

In its 9 November judgment, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Articles 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and no violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 7 (right of appeal) to the convention.

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held that Greece was to pay Fırat 1,600 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

The court began by referring to its case-law established in Michelioudakis v. Greece2, and held that the length of the criminal proceedings in the present case – a little over four years across two levels of jurisdiction – had been excessive. It also held that Mr Fırat had not had an effective remedy by which to assert his complaint.

The court went on to find that the exercise of Mr Fırat’s right of appeal had not been at the cost of his liberty.

Even if the Court of Appeal had held a hearing and given a ruling on the date originally scheduled, the conditions required under the Criminal Code in order to be granted conditional release – to have served three-fifths of the sentence – would not have been satisfied.

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