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Butkevicius v. Lithuania,(48297/99) [1999] ECHR (26 March 1999)
European Court of Human Rights' HUDOC database.

Facts: Audrius Butkevicius was apprehended by the security intelligence while accepting an envelope containing 15,000 United States 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.

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.

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.



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