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Fair Trial

Cooke v Austria (25878/94):  The Applicant, who was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 20 years, was not able to attend the hearing of the appeal he filed against sentence . The Court found a violation of Article 6(1) in conjunction with Article 6(3)(c), because the main issue was an assessment of the Applicant’s character, which could not have been properly evaluated without his presence. The AIRE Centre was assisted by the UK consular services in this case.

Blake v UK (68890/01):  The Applicant wrote a book about his life as a double agent for the UK and the Soviet Union. He had some years earlier escaped from a UK prison and was resident in the Soviet Union. The Government brought proceedings to prohibit his publishers from making any further payment  to him, although there was no precedent in English law for bringing such proceedings.  Although he lacked funds he was refused legal aid to defend the proceedings and so was unable to participate. The Government instead appointed an amicus curiae. The proceedings lasted 9 years and 10 months. The Court did not find  that  the proceedings themselves violated Article 6 but it did find that they were not pursued with the diligence required by Article 6(1).  The Court found a violation of Article 6.

Condron v UK (35718/97):  The AIRE Centre assisted the representatives in this case. The Applicants were convicted and sentenced for drug dealing by a jury. They complained that the failure of the trial judge to direct the jury that it should not draw an adverse inference from the Applicants exercising their right to silence during the police interview breached Article 6.  The Court found a violation of Article 6(1), as the jury was not properly directed and this could not be remedied on appeal, depriving them of their right to a fair hearing.

Nicholas v Cyprus (37371/97):   The AIRE Centre represented the Applicant, a British Citizen,  who complained under Article 6(1) that his right of access to court was violated in employment proceedings he brought against the state. There is only criminal legal aid in Cyprus and no scheme for  civil legal aid. He could not afford to fund the litigation against the state privately and did not speak Greek well enough to represent himself. The case was declared inadmissible ratione personae, as the Court found that he could not claim to be a victim of a violation. It considered the dismissal of his claim by  the national court was not due to the unavailability of legal aid.

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Dowsett v UK (8559/08): The AIRE centre is representing the Applicant in this case. In 2004 he had won his first case in the ECtHR (38482/98) as at his criminal trial one crucial piece and seventeen additional boxes of evidence were withheld from the defence by the prosecution without judicial scrutiny or ruling. The Court found a violation of Article 6. Following the Court's ruling, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC -a non judicial body) refused to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal. The subsequent judicial review, in which the judges did not see the undisclosed evidence, upheld the CCRC's decision. The Applicant complains that he is still being held in custody, convicted and sentenced as a result of a trial which the ECthR has already ruled was unfair in violation of Article 6. There has never been any judicial scrutiny of the withheld evidence. The case is pending.

Osu v Italy (36534/97):   The Applicant, a British Citizen, was represented by the AIRE centre and was originally acquitted at the Italian trial at which he was present, after which he left Italy.  Unbeknown to him, the prosecutor appealed the acquittal and he was convicted  and sentenced in absentia to seven years’ imprisonment for illegal possession of drugs so that  when he next travelled to Italy he was arrested.The ECtHR found a violation of Article 6(1), because the Applicant was refused  leave to lodge an appeal, which deprived him of the right to access to a court to challenge his conviction in absentia.

Pellegrini v Italy (30882/96): The AIRE Centre submitted a third party intervention in this case.  The Applicant was summoned before a Vatican ecclesiastical court, without being informed of the reasons for the summons and without the assistance of a lawyer. The Vatican court issued a decree of nullity of her marriage, which was automatically given legal effect by the Italian civil courts.  As the European Court of Human Rights lacks jurisdiction over the Vatican, it could not ascertain the legality of the procedures in the Vatican. However, the Court found that Italy breached Article 6(1), as the Italian court did not ascertain whether the Applicant had a fair trial under canon law before authorising enforcement of the Vatican court’s judgment.

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