Judgment (Merits and Just Satisfaction) of European Court of Human Rights, January 07, 2010 (case CASE OF RANTSEV v. CYPRUS AND RUSSIA)

Defense:Cyprus
Resolution Date:January 07, 2010
 
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FIFTH SECTION

CASE OF STOYAN MITEV v. BULGARIA

(Application no. 60922/00)

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

7 January 2010

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 Stoyan Mitev v. Bulgaria,

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

Peer Lorenzen, President,

Karel Jungwiert,

Rait Maruste,

Mark Villiger,

Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre,

Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska, judges,

Pavlina Panova, ad hoc judge,

and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 1 December 2009,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

PROCEDURE

  1. The case originated in an application (no. 60922/00) against the Republic of Bulgaria lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("the Convention") by a Bulgarian national, Mr Stoyan Stoyanov Mitev ("the applicant"), on 27 July 2000. The applicant was born in 1934, lived in Sokolovo and passed away in 2001. By a letter of 6 April 2005 his son, Mr Asen Stoyanov Mitev, informed the Court that he wished to continue the application on behalf of his father.

  2. The applicant was represented by Ms Y. Vandova, a lawyer practising in Sofia.

  3. The Bulgarian Government ("the Government") were represented by their Agent, Ms M. Kotzeva, of the Ministry of Justice.

  4. The applicant alleged, in particular, that his continued detention in spite of his constantly deteriorating medical condition amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment in contravention of Article 3 of the Convention.

  5. On 1 September 2005 the Court declared the application partly inadmissible and decided to communicate the complaint under Article 3 of the Convention to the Government. It also decided to examine the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility (Article 29 § 3).

  6. Judge Kalaydjieva, the judge elected in respect of Bulgaria, withdrew from sitting in the case (Rule 28 of the Rules of Court). On 30 January 2009, the Government, pursuant to Rule 29 § 1 (a), informed the Court that they had appointed in her stead Ms Pavlina Panova as an ad hoc judge (Article 27 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 29 § 1 of the Rules of the Court).

    THE FACTS

    1. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE

    1. The criminal proceedings against the applicant

  7. On 17 August 1997 the applicant was arrested after neighbours found him beating another elderly individual, who later died from his injuries.

  8. In a judgment of 10 December 1998 the Burgas Regional Court found the applicant guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced him to seventeen years' imprisonment, to be initially served in a high security prison. The applicant appealed against the judgment.

  9. In a judgment of 15 November 1999 the Burgas Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's judgment. The applicant lodged a cassation appeal.

  10. Two hearings before the Supreme Court of Cassation were adjourned because of the applicant's failure to attend them as a result of his deteriorating medical condition.

  11. On 21 July 2000 the Supreme Court of Cassation ordered the applicant's release on bail. The guarantee was deposited on 24 July 2000 and the applicant was released the next day.

  12. Subsequently, several more hearings were scheduled, but none were conducted due to the deteriorating medical condition of the applicant.

  13. On 14 December 2001 the applicant passed away.

  14. In view of the applicant's death, by a decision of 19 March 2002 the Supreme Court of Cassation quashed the judgment of the Burgas Court of Appeal and discontinued the criminal proceedings against him.

    1. The applicant's medical condition

  15. Prior to the criminal proceedings

  16. The applicant was a pensioner who retired on medical grounds. After a domestic accident in 1993 he became disabled, walked with a stick and limped because his left leg had become shorter than his right by six centimetres. The applicant was apparently a heavy smoker.

  17. Injuries allegedly sustained during the arrest

  18. At the time of his arrest on 17 August 1997 the applicant allegedly sustained an injury to his testicles. On 20 February 1998 his lawyer requested the courts to order that his client be provided with hospital treatment for the aforementioned injury. It is unclear whether the applicant received any such treatment. At the time, he was held at the detention facility of the Burgas Investigation Service.

  19. While in detention

    (a) Angiopathy and inguinal hernia

  20. On 21 November 1997 the applicant was transferred to Stara Zagora Prison where he was examined by a doctor. He complained of poor blood circulation in both legs and was found to have angiopathy[1]. It does not appear that he received any specific treatment for this condition. The applicant was also diagnosed with left-sided inguinal hernia[2] and was prohibited physically intensive work.

  21. On 11 February 1998 the applicant was examined by the prison doctor, who found that the applicant's inguinal hernia was progressing and ordered that it be operated on.

  22. On 4 March 1998 the applicant was transferred to Sofia Prison Hospital where on 10 March 1998 the operation was performed. The applicant remained hospitalised for at least another ten days, when his stitches were removed. He was discharged on an unspecified day, advised not to lift anything heavy and was given thirty days' home leave.

  23. On an unspecified date before May 1998 the applicant returned to Stara Zagora Prison.

    (b) Urinary infection

  24. Some time prior to July 1998 the applicant developed an infection or complications which affected his urinary tract and he had difficulty urinating. It is unclear whether he received any treatment for this condition and when it cleared up.

    (c) Stroke

    (i) Stara Zagora

  25. At around 10:30 a.m. on 28 January 2000 the applicant, while physically exerting himself for an unspecified reason, developed a very severe headache, his mouth became crooked, he started having difficulty speaking and his right limbs became numb. Upon examination, he was found to have very high blood pressure. The applicant was taken to the emergency room of Stara Zagora hospital where various tests were performed, including a CAT scan (computed tomography) of the brain. As a result, it was discovered that he had suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with the following:

    "Brain atherosclerosis. Arterial hypertension - 3rd stage. Transient disturbance of the brain's blood circulation in the left carothic system (stroke). Right-sided hemiparesis."

  26. The applicant returned to the medical ward in Stara Zagora Prison where he was placed under medical supervision and ordered to remain in bed. He was prescribed daily doses of Agapurin, Vasopren and Cinnarizine.

  27. As the applicant's medical condition had stabilised, on 9 February 2000 the prison warden proposed that the applicant be transferred to Sofia Prison Hospital for further treatment and rehabilitation.

  28. On 18 February 2000 the applicant was transferred to the neurological ward of Sofia Prison Hospital.

    (ii) Sofia Prison Hospital

  29. At Sofia Prison Hospital the applicant was prescribed a medication regime aimed at improving the blood circulation to his brain. On 23 February 2000 he also started physiotherapy.

  30. The applicant's medical records from his stay at this facility indicate that his medical condition was regularly monitored, but sometimes not every single day. He also appears to have had regular contact with and access to doctors or medical personnel, who addressed, in so far as possible, the complaints or complications he had.

  31. On 1 March 2000 a medical commission examined the applicant and concluded that it was not necessary to move him to an outside civil medical facility, as he was showing signs of improvement and the required treatment could be provided adequately at Sofia Prison Hospital.

  32. The applicant's medical record indicates that on 20 March 2000 he said he had fainted while being led out to see a visitor.

  33. It appears that the applicant's medical condition gradually began to deteriorate. Towards the end of April or the beginning of May 2000 it worsened considerably.

  34. On 4 May 2000 another CAT scan of...

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