Lithuania,(48297/99)  ECHR (26 March 1999)
European Court of Human Rights'
Facts: Audrius Butkevicius
was apprehended by the security intelligence while accepting an envelope
dollars and had previously requested 300,000 USD for his assistance in
obtaining the discontinuance of criminal proceedings concerning his
company's vast debts. He was charged with attempting to obtain property by
deception and was duly detained on remand. He was eventually found guilty of
attempting to obtain property by deception and sentenced to five years and
six months imprisonment, a 50,000 Lithuanian fine and confiscation of half
of his property.
Allegations: He alleged that his remand in custody had been unlawful,
that he had not been able to take court proceedings to contest the
lawfulness of the detention relying on Article 5 §§ 1 (right to liberty and
security) and 4 (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a
court). He also alleged that certain statements of the Prosecutor General
and the Chairman of the Parliament published in the media had breached
Article 6 § 2 (presumption of innocence) of the Convention.
Holding: The Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of
Article 5 §§ 1, 4 and Article 6 § 2 and awarded the applicant EUR 5,700 for
non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,900 for costs and expenses.
Reasoning: The Court stated that the expressions
'lawful' and 'in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law' in Article 5
§§ 1 of the European Convention essentially refer to domestic law and
establish the obligation to conform to the substantive and procedural rules
thereof. The Court assessed the 'lawfulness' of detention under national law
and also under Article 5 §§1 of the Convention which prevents persons from
being deprived of their liberty in an arbitrary way. The Court also ensured
that the domestic law itself is in conformity with the Convention.