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Darvas v. Hungary

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in its decision dated 11 January 2011 that the pre-trial detention of a 27-year old man was unjustified. According to the ECtHR, the applicant should not have been detained after the investigation was closed in his case. Thus, Hungary has violated the Convention, and shall pay a just satisfaction of 5000 EUR, along with 3500 EUR for reimbursing costs. The decision shows that ordering pre-trial detention automatically constitutes a serious rights violation. The applicant was represented by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

Mr. Darvas was arrested on 5 December 2004 on charges of drug abuse. His was placed in pre-trial detention and released on 13 April 2005. On 20 May 2005, he was arrested in another case, on charges of aggravated drug trafficking, essentially because substantial amounts of various drugs and packaging material had been found in a garage of which he had been the tenant. On 22 May 2005, his pre-trial detention was ordered in the case on the ground of the risk of collusion with the presumed drug network’s other members. Afterwards, his detention was subsequently prolonged at the statutory intervals in decisions which included rather stereotypical references to the risks of absconding and collusion with no detailed reasoning as to his individual circumstances or the evidence obtained against him. The investigation in the case was terminated on 12 June 2006, and on 10 August 2006 a bill of indictment was filed, that combined the facts of the two criminal proceedings outlined above. His pre-trial detention was prolonged, and he remained there until 30 November 2006, when he was released on bail and was placed under house arrest. In April 2008, the court found Mr. Darvas guilty of the charge relating to the offence for which he had been arrested on 5 December 2004, but was acquitted in respect of all the remaining charges. He spent altogether 18 months in pre-trial detention.

Mr. Darvas – represented by the HHC’s attorney – turned to the European Court of Human Rights regarding his pre-trial detention. As regards his detention subsequent to the termination of the investigation and in particular to the indictment, the ECtHR ruled that the manner in which the question of prolongation of the detention was dealt with by the courts – which had little or no regard to the particular elements of the case and the personal circumstances of the applicant, and did not consider less intrusive means of intervention or provide convincing reasons for the assumption that the applicant would abscond – effectively deprived this period of the applicant’s detention of the justification required for the purposes of Article 5(1)(c) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Thus, Hungary violated the Convention, and the applicant was awarded a just satisfaction of EUR 5,000, along with EUR 3,500 for costs and expenses.


The full decision of the European Court of Human Rights is available here: Darvas v. Hungary

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee