Igor Sutyagin has Proved that Russia’s Courts Lack Impartiality and Independence

posted 10 May 2011, 12:38 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 May 2011, 12:42 ]
Source: hro.org (info), 03/05/11

· European Court of Human Rights  · The Courts  · Igor Sutyagin

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia must pay €20,000 in compensation to Igor Sutyagin. The Court found that Russia violated the right of the accused to a fair trial and held him in detention for an excessive period of time.

The hearing in the case Sutyagin v Russia took place on Tuesday, 3 May 2011. Igor Sutyagin was represented by the lawyer Anna Stavitskaya.

Тatiana Chernikova, citing the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, reports that the Court found there had been violations of Article 5.3 of the Convention (prolonged pre-trial detention of the applicant); Article 6.1 of the Convention (length of trial proceedings against the applicant); and Article 6.1 of the Convention (the court had not been independent and impartial).

As GZT.ru writes, the Court ruled that Igor Sutyagin was unnecessarily detained in prison for four years and five months. A press release by the Court states: “The Russian courts had consistently relied on the gravity of the charges against Mr Sutyagin as the sole or decisive factor justifying his prolonged detention. They had disregarded the argument that his visa for a trip abroad had expired in November 1999, and had not considered any measure, other than detention, as a possibility to ensure his appearance at the trial.”

In addition, Igor Sutyagin’s legal defence had pointed to the fact that during the legal proceedings in his home country the applicant was denied the opportunity to present evidence and the testimony of witnesses confirming that the documents he had communicated did not contain State secrets. The Court did not satisfy these particular complaints on the grounds that the Court was not obliged to review them.

Georgy Neyaskin, an GZT.ru correspondent, writes: "Anna Stavitskaya said that the violations of the principles of impartial court hearings were so fundamental in nature, that the justice of the following Court hearings were perverted by the initial conditions. In this light, Anna Stavitskaya added, there really was no sense in the specific complaints against the Russian courts being considered. Anna Stavitskaya described the view taken by the Strasbourg court: ‘The European Court of Human Rights recognized that the court that convicted Igor Sutyagin lacked the main qualities that a court should have, that is, independence and impartiality...This is such a fundamental violation that all else fades in comparison.’”

"This is the first decision with regards to Russia in which the European Court of Human Rights has recognized ...that both independence and partiality are lacking,” Anna Stavitskaya said. The lawyer believes that the representatives of the Russian government will seek to appeal against the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

The judgment of the Strasbourg court is grounds for the decisions of domestic courts in the case of Igor Sutyagin to be reviewed and quashed. The lawyer Anna Stavitskaya did not say whether her client intended to appeal against the decisions of the Russian courts, GZT.ru writes.