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Unjustified pre-trial detention: Bandur v. Hungary

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Váltás magyarra

In its judgment of 5 July 2016, the European Court of Human Rights established that the pre-trial detention of the HHC’s client, Mr. Bandur,  violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2012 the HHC submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the pre-trial detention case of Mr. Bandur, a then 50-year old truck driver with a clean criminal record and a registered job. In 2011 Mr. Bandur was assigned to carry some goods to a depo by truck, which he did, but the goods disappeared from the depot later on and the police started an investigation into the case. In the document proving that the goods had been handed over in the depot, two characters of Mr. Bandur’s name and one character of the number of his ID were recorded wrongly. After a one-year long investigation, he was identified as a suspect as the police assumed that he provide false personal data intentionally on the mentioned document.

When the police went to the registered address of Mr. Bandur, where he had been living for 40 years with his old parents and sick brother, he was abroad working. As a result, the police issued an arrest warrant against him, claiming that he fled. Upon his arrival back to Hungary and after he got to know that an arrest warrant was issued against him, Mr. Bandur went to the police station voluntarily, made a statement and handed over all the documentation he had in relation to the investigated case. However, the court decided that he shall be placed in pre-trial detention due to the risk of absconding, evoking as a reason in one of the related decisions that “the suspect was arrested on the basis of an arrest warrant because he resided abroad earlier on”.

Mr. Bandur, who was later on acquitted in the case by a final court decision, was detained for months, with the authorities disregarding the circumstances, before being released.

In its judgment issued on 5 July 2016, the European Court of Human Rights found that the authorities failed to justify the applicant’s continued deprivation of liberty and that there has accordingly been a violation of Article 5 (3) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, the European Court of Human Rights concluded that the principle of equality of arms was not respected in the procedure related to the applicant’s pre-trial detention, violating Article 5 (4); and that the applicant’s detention conditions amounted to degrading treatment, in breach of Article 3.

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Hungarian Helsinki Committee