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Case law

ECtHR, Asatryan v. Armenia

April 2017 - Armenia

equality of arms

The applicant complained that she had not had a fair hearing in criminal proceedings brought against her. In October 2007 she was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment, in relation to a 2001 car-bomb attack. The applicant appealed the conviction, but she was ultimately unsuccessful. Relying in particular on Article 6(1) and (3) (d) of the European Convention on Human Rights, she complained that, when rejecting her appeal, the Criminal Court of Appeal had relied on pretrial witness statements which had not been read out and examined in court at first instance or on appeal, and that she had had no opportunity to challenge the witnesses who had given them at any time during the proceedings.
The Court finds it unclear whether the evidence of witnesses was decisive but it is nevertheless satisfied that it carried significant weight and its admission might have handicapped the defence. The Court notes that there were no procedural safeguards to compensate for the handicaps caused to the defence. In particular, the applicant never had the possibility of challenging the witnesses in question during the investigation nor could she reasonably have been expected to make such requests during the trial given that these witnesses were not included in the witness call list. Furthermore, in the circumstances where the evidence in question was not examined in a public hearing the defence was not even aware that the Court of Appeal intended to refer to that evidence to uphold the applicant’s conviction. Therefore, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 6(1) and (3) (d) of the Convention.

You can read the full judgment here.

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