CourtThird Section (European Court of Human Rights)
Judgment Date31 May 2022
Date31 May 2022
Application Number48784/20
Applied Rules5;5-1



(Application no. 48784/20)


Art 5 § 1 • Sentence of imprisonment, suspended pending pardon request and executed several years later, not arbitrary • Lawful detention compatible with the aims of the initial conviction • Reasonably foreseeable interruption of limitation period in the circumstances


31 May 2022

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Galeano Peñas v. Spain,

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

Georges Ravarani, President,
María Elósegui,
Darian Pavli,
Anja Seibert-Fohr,
Peeter Roosma,
Andreas Zünd,
Frédéric Krenc, judges,
and Milan Blaško, Section Registrar,

Having regard to:

the application (no. 48784/20) against the Kingdom of Spain lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Spanish national, Mr Ruben Galeano Peñas (“the applicant”), on 26 October 2020;

the decision to give notice to the Spanish Government (“the Government”) of the applicant’s complaints concerning the alleged expiry of the time-limit for enforcing the sentence of imprisonment and his allegedly unlawful deprivation of liberty following his imprisonment under Article 7 and Article 5 § 1 of the Convention;

the parties’ observations;

Having deliberated in private on 15 March and 3 May 2022,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the last-mentioned date:


1. The application concerns the alleged violation of Article 7 and Article 5 § 1 of the Convention on the grounds of the expiry of the time-limit for enforcing the sentence of imprisonment which the applicant was serving when he lodged his application with the Court.


2. The applicant was born in 1987 and lives in Griñón. He was represented by Mr J. Gomez Deiros, a lawyer practising in Seseña (Toledo).

3. The Government were represented by their Agent, Mr L.E. Vacas Chalfoun.

4. The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

5. On 17 December 2011, the applicant, an officer of the Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), had an argument with a woman over a traffic incident while he was driving off duty. Subsequently, he allegedly reported that the woman had committed two traffic offences.

6. In a judgment of 15 July 2013, the Audiencia Provincial of Madrid convicted the applicant of the offence of forgery of facts in a public record committed by a civil servant. Among other penalties, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, suspension of his right to stand for election for the same period, day-fines of 6 euros per day for a period of six months, and disqualification from holding any public office or employment for two years.

7. On 8 January 2014 the Audiencia Provincial declared the judgment final and opened execution proceedings no. 2/2014. The applicant was ordered to go to prison, pay the fine and comply with the disqualification from public office.

8. On 17 January 2014 the applicant requested a pardon in respect of the sentence of imprisonment. On 20 January 2014 he requested the suspension of the execution of the sentence pending the examination of the pardon request, which was to be decided by the Council of Ministers upon a recommendation of the Ministry of Justice.

9. On 28 January 2014 the Audiencia Provincial granted the suspension (under Article 4 § 4 of the Criminal Code; see paragraph 27 below).

10. The established time-limit for the Council of Ministers to decide on a pardon request is one year, after which requests may be deemed to have been rejected (see paragraph 31 below).

11. In the meantime, the Guardia Civil opened disciplinary proceedings against the applicant. Following his conviction for an intentional offence committed in relation to his duties, he was suspended from his employment for three years (from 27 February 2015 to 26 February 2018).

12. The applicant also paid the fine imposed in the criminal proceedings on 13 January 2017.

13. On 19 May 2017 the Audiencia Provincial delivered a decision (providencia) according to which, given that there had been no express granting of the pardon, the pardon request was to be considered rejected, and therefore the execution of the sentence was to be resumed. In the decision the applicant was summoned to collect the order to voluntarily go to prison. The applicant lodged an appeal against the decision.

14. On 29 June 2017 the Audiencia Provincial declared the appeal partly admissible and ordered that the Ministry of Justice be contacted again in order to obtain an express clarification about whether the applicant’s pardon request was still pending or whether it should be understood that it had been rejected.

15. On 17 July 2017 the Ministry of Justice replied that the pardon request was still pending. Accordingly, on 14 September 2017 the Audiencia Provincial decided once again...

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