Case of European Court of Human Rights, November 16, 2010 (case García Hernández v. Spain)

Resolution DateNovember 16, 2010

Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 135

November 2010

García Hernández v. Spain - 15256/07

Judgment 16.11.2010 [Section III]

Article 6

Criminal proceedings

Lack of public hearing before appeal court deciding issues of fact: violation

Facts – The applicant, a doctor, was prosecuted and convicted for negligently causing injury to a patient.

Law – Article 6 § 1: At first instance, the criminal judge had given his ruling on the basis of a number of items of evidence. After a public hearing, at which he had had the opportunity to form his own opinion, he had concluded that there had been no negligence on the applicant’s part and had acquitted her. The Audiencia Provincial had subsequently overturned the judgment on appeal and found, without examining in person either the applicant or any of the witnesses who had given evidence to the criminal judge, that the post she held entailed a special duty of care which she had not adequately discharged in respect of the patient concerned. The Court considered that since the issues examined were essentially factual in nature, the applicant’s conviction on appeal following a reassessment of factors such as her conduct, without her having the opportunity to give evidence in person and to challenge those findings at a public and adversarial hearing, failed to satisfy the requirements of a fair trial.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

(See also Bazo González v. Spain, no. 30643/04, 16 December 2008, Information Note no. 114, and Igual Coll v. Spain, no. 37496/04, 10 March 2009, Information Note no. 117)

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