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Publication:[not yet received]
Title:Beganovic v. Croatia
Application No:46423/06
Referred by:
Date of reference by Commission:
Date of reference by State:
Date of Judgment:25-06-2009
Conclusion:Violation of article 3
Not necessary to examine article 13
No violation of article 14
Compensation awarded

(Press release)
The applicant is a Croatian national who was born in 1977 and lives in Luka (Croatia). On 23 April 2000, the applicant got into a fight with a group of seven friends over a violent incident in which they had previously been involved. In April and June 2000 the police interviewed the members of the group of friends who submitted that they had agreed to attack the applicant as revenge for him having physically assaulted some of them a few months earlier. The police also interviewed the applicant who gave no indication that any of his assailants had made reference to his Roma origin. In June 2000 the applicant lodged a criminal complaint with the State Attorney's Office against six identified individuals and one unknown alleging that they had beaten him on 23 April 2000 causing him severe bodily injuries. A medical report was submitted to the police by a hospital in Zagreb, in which the applicant had been examined after the incident, and which described his injuries as grievous.

Acting upon the applicant's complaint against the seven individuals, the police brought a criminal complaint before the State Attorney's Office in respect of the assailants. However, the Attorney's Office decided, in July 2001 and in September 2002 respectively, not to institute criminal proceedings against the assailants as it found the injuries complained of to be of a nature only prosecutable privately by the victim. The applicant then brought private prosecutions against his assailants. His private prosecution against one of them, B.B., was later dismissed by a different State Attorney who found that there had been a procedural mistake as, according to domestic legislation, B.B. had to be prosecuted by the State after all. Criminal proceedings were ultimately brought against B.B. before a juvenile judge in February 2002 only to be discontinued in December 2005 on the ground that the prosecution had become time-barred. During the hearings held under those court proceedings the applicant did not indicate in any way that any of his assailants had made reference to his Roma origin. The applicant prosecuted the rest of the assailants privately; those proceedings were ultimately discontinued in May 2006 as the court found that prosecution had become time-barred almost two years earlier.

Relying on Articles 3 and 13, Mr Beganovic argued that the authorities did not protect him from an act of ill-treatment as they had not investigated and prosecuted effectively those responsible. Further relying on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 3, he alleged that both the attack and the subsequent proceedings showed that he had been discriminated against on account of his Roma origin.

Article 3
Investigation and prosecution:
The Court first noted that the police had promptly conducted interviews with all of the assailants, the applicant and two neutral witnesses, had obtained a medical report and brought a criminal complaint against the assailants. However, while under relevant domestic law the prosecution of minors always had to be pursued by the State, in the present case only the criminal proceedings against B.B. had eventually been undertaken by the competent State Attorney's Office, after prosecution had initially been refused on the wrongful ground that the act could only be prosecuted privately. When the court had finally started criminal proceedings against B.B., almost two years after the incident, a significant period of inactivity had followed until, in 2004, B.B.'s prosecution had become time-barred.

In respect of the other assailants, the State Attorney's Office had declared the applicant's criminal complaint inadmissible more than two years after he had brought it and on the ground that it had to be prosecuted privately. While that error had been rectified in respect of B.B., in the case of the other assailants the authorities had not reacted. Despite the private prosecutions brought by the applicant, the prosecution had ultimately become time-barred also in respect of the other assailants.

Thus, the facts of the case had never been established by a competent court of law. Instead, time-barring had occurred as a result of the inactivity of the relevant State authorities. The Court concluded that the authorities' practices had not protected adequately the applicant from an act of serious violence and, together with the manner in which the criminal-law mechanisms had been implemented in the present case, had been defective, in violation of Article 3.

Having regard to the above the Court finds that there was no separate issue to be examined under Article 13.

Article 14
The Court found no evidence that the attack on the applicant had been racially motivated. The facts of the case had revealed that the applicant and his assailants had actually belonged to the same circle of friends, and there had been no indication that the applicant's race or ethnic origin had played a role in any of the incidents. Therefore, there had been no violation of Article14 read in conjunction with Article 3.

Article 41
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the Court awarded the applicant 1,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 6,250 for costs and expenses.

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Last Modified: 13-01-2014 16:18:19 (Documentation SIM)