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G. B. v. Bulgaria , judgment of 11 March 2004, no. 42346/98, 51-62

Facts: the applicant was a Bulgarian national who was convicted of the murder of his wife and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He was later convicted of the murder of his second wife and sentenced to the death penalty. The execution of the death penalty was delayed and on December 10, 1998 the death penalty was abolished in Bulgaria. Accordingly, the applicant's sentence was changed to life imprisonment without parole eligibility. 

Complaint: the applicant claimed that his detention under a special regime where he was alone in his cell, had to spend almost 23 hours a day with limited human contacts amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment. He claimed a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

Holding: the ECHR found a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

Reasoning: solitary confinement without appropriate mental and physical stimulation could have damaging effects on a prisoner's mental faculties. The Court ruled that the stringent custodial regime to which the applicant had been subjected must have caused him suffering amounting to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of Article 3.



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