Case of European Court of Human Rights, June 22, 2000 (case Coëme and Others v. Belgium)

Resolution DateJune 22, 2000

Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 19

June 2000

Coëme and Others v. Belgium - 32492/96, 32547/96, 32548/96 et al.

Judgment 22.6.2000 [Section II]

Article 6

Criminal proceedings

Article 6-1

Tribunal established by law

Special procedure for Ministers before the Court of Cassation applied to others: violation

Article 7

Article 7-1


Application of new law extending longer prescription period for less serious crimes to proceedings started before its entry into force: no violation

Facts: In 1989 criminal proceedings were opened against Mr Javeau, who was suspected of fraud and corruption between 1981 and 1989, when he ran the association “I”, whose activities included carrying out market surveys and opinion polls. During the judicial investigation both Mr Javeau and Mr Stalport were heard. In 1994 the prosecution requested the Chamber of Representatives to lift Mr Coëme’s parliamentary immunity, since he was implicated in certain of that association’s illegal activities while occupying a post as minister. Pursuant to Article 103 of the Constitution on judicial proceedings against ministers, the Chamber of Representatives decided that Mr Coëme should be prosecuted before the Court of Cassation sitting as a full court, which under that article was the only court with jurisdiction to try a minister. The other applicants were dealt with under the same procedure, before the Court of Cassation, by virtue of the connected offences principle provided for in the Code of Criminal Investigation, although none of them was a minister. At the hearing before the Court of Cassation on 5 February 1996, it was announced that the procedure to be followed would be the ordinary criminal procedure. On 12 February 1996 an interlocutory judgment was read out, in which the Court of Cassation declared that the matter had been properly brought before it and that it had jurisdiction to deal with it; in the same judgment the court stated that the rules governing ordinary criminal procedure would be applied only in so far as they were compatible with the provisions governing the procedure before the Court of Cassation sitting as a full court. The Court of Cassation also refused to request the Administrative Jurisdiction and Procedure Court to give a preliminary ruling on two questions submitted by two of the applicants, one concerning the connected offences principle taken from the Code of Criminal Investigation and applied to the instant proceedings...

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