The European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on Tuesday, September 14, in the case of Petrenco and six other people against Moldova, recognizing the violation of several articles of the Convention by Moldova, announces the Promo-LEX Association.
According to the Association, the case concerns the arrest and detention of the applicants on the basis of allegations of mass disturbances, following a demonstration they organized in front of the General Prosecutor’s Office in September 2015. All the applicants were detained for four and a half months in Penitentiary no. 13 and, for approximately the same period of time, were under house arrest. While they were under house arrest, the applicants were forced to wear electronic bracelets, which they had to charge every five hours.
The Court ordered the Moldovan Government to pay the applicants the total amount of 63,750 euros for non-pecuniary damage, for the violations committed, and the sum of 4,000 for costs and expenses of representation and legal assistance before the ECtHR.
”The applicants complained to the ECtHR about the following violations of the Convention: the first applicant had complained about the conditions of detention in Penitentiary no. 13. The applicant’s detention in Penitentiary no. 13 was inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention.
All applicants complain, under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention, that deprivation of liberty was not based on a reasonable suspicion that they had committed a crime and that their detention was arbitrary and illegal. They also complain, pursuant to Article 5 §§ 3 and 4, that their deprivation of liberty was not based on relevant and sufficient grounds and that the national courts did not give sufficient reasons for their judgments on the application and extension of preventive measures.
All, with the exception of the first applicant, complained under Article 11 of the Convention that the applicants’ right to peaceful assembly had been violated, as a precautionary measure, of prohibitions on going to places where mass protests were taking place. With the exception of the first and fourth applicants, the applicants complain, in accordance with Article 13, that they have not had an effective remedy against the violation of Article 11 of the Convention (concerning the prohibition laid down by the court to participate in public meetings),” say the Promo-LEX representatives.
After examining the videos of the demonstration of 6 September 2015, included in the case file, according to Promo-LEX, the Court found that the allegations of the applicants’ violent behavior were completely incompatible with the footage contained in those videos.
At the same time, the ECtHR found that Judge Svetlana Balmuș of the Court of Appeal stated in her separate opinion that the meeting was peaceful. The Court also noted the finding of the Supreme Court of Justice in its decision of 11 February 2020 with regard to the conviction of the applicants, the lower courts relied exclusively on the presentation of the facts presented by the prosecution and that they did not pay attention to the evidence of the defense.
“This case highlights systemic issues related to the legality and validity of the application and extension of pre-trial detention measures, as well as the restriction of the right to freedom of assembly by applying, as a provisional measure, the ban on going to places with mass protests. The court finds the lack of reasonable suspicion regarding the commission of the crime and the arbitrary assessment of the evidence by the court, by exclusively reproducing the position of the accusation,” said the Promo-LEX Program Director and the lawyer Vadim Vieru.