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Berlinski v. Poland (27715/95) [2002] ECHR 500(20 June 2002)
 The text of this case can be found on the European Court of Human Rights' HUDOC database.

Facts: Roman and Slavomir Berlinski were apprehended by police officers who were allegedly hostile since they sprayed the applicants with tear-gas and struck them with a stick. The Government denies that any ill-treatment occurred.  At the police station the applicants were questioned and later released. Roman Berlinski was taken to a hospital where he remained for 11 days. Further investigations were opened against the applicants who were charged with affray, assault and battery against the police officers. They were required to undergo psychiatric tests; having refused, Roman Berliński was compulsorily placed in a mental hospital. The Lublin District Court found the applicants guilty under Article 234 of the Criminal Code in that they had resisted and assaulted the police. They received suspended prison sentences of one year and six months and one year respectively.

Allegations: The applicants alleged, in particular, that they were ill-treated by the police and that their defence rights were violated in that they had no defence counsel for a period of over a year during the preliminary investigation of a criminal case against them. They relied on Articles 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment) and Article 6 1 and 3(c) (right to a fair hearing).

The Court held, unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 3. It also held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 6 1 and 3 (c)

 Reasoning: Ill-treatment must attain a minimum level of severity to fall within the scope of Article 3 of the European Convention. The Court considered that the degree of bruising found by the various experts indicated that the injuries were sufficiently serious to amount to ill-treatment within the scope of Article 3. However, the Court underlined that the seriousness of the injuries did not overcome the fact that the recourse to physical force was here made necessary by the applicants' own conduct. As a result, the use of force against them could not be held to have been excessive.



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