Case of European Court of Human Rights, October 21, 2013 (case Del Río Prada v. Spain [GC])

Resolution Date:October 21, 2013
SUMMARY

Violation of Article 7 - No punishment without law (Article 7-1 - Heavier penalty Nulla poena sine lege Retroactivity) Violation of Article 5 - Right to liberty and security (Article 5-1 - Lawful arrest or detention) Respondent State to take individual measures (Article 46-2 - Individual measures) Non-pecuniary damage - award

 
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Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 167

October 2013

Del Río Prada v. Spain [GC] - 42750/09

Judgment 21.10.2013 [GC]

Article 7

Article 7-1

Heavier penalty

Nulla poena sine lege

Retroactivity

Postponement of date of applicant’s release following change in case-law after she was sentenced: violation

Article 5

Article 5-1

Lawful arrest or detention

Postponement of date of applicant’s release following change in case-law after she was sentenced: violation

Facts – Between 1988 and 2000, in eight sets of criminal proceedings, the applicant received a series of prison sentences amounting to more than 3,000 years in total for various offences linked to terrorist attacks. In November 2000, in view of the close legal and chronological connection between the offences, the Audiencia Nacional combined the applicant’s sentences and fixed the total term to be served at thirty years, in accordance with the limit provided for in the 1973 Criminal Code, as in force at the relevant time. In April 2008 the authorities at the prison where the applicant was being held scheduled the date of her release for July 2008, after deducting remissions of sentence for the work she had done in prison since the start of her detention in 1987. Subsequently, in May 2008 the Audiencia Nacional asked the prison authorities to revise the applicant’s planned release date and recalculate it on the basis of a new approach (known as the “Parot doctrine”) adopted by the Supreme Court in a judgment of February 2006, according to which the relevant sentence adjustments and remissions were to be applied to each of the sentences individually and not to the maximum term of thirty years’ imprisonment. As a result, the final date for the applicant’s release was set at 27 June 2017. Her subsequent appeals were unsuccessful.

In a judgment delivered on 10 July 2012 (see Information Note 154) a Chamber of the Court held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Articles 5 and 7 of the Convention, finding that the application of the new method for calculating remissions of sentence had not been foreseeable at the time of the applicant’s conviction and had amounted to retroactive application, to her detriment, of a change that had taken place after the offences had been committed.

Law – Article 7: The parties’ submissions mainly concerned the calculation of the total term to be served by the applicant in accordance both with the rules on combining sentences and setting a maximum term, and with the system of remissions of sentence for work done in detention as provided for in the 1973 Criminal Code.

(a) Scope of the penalty imposed – Under the 1973 Criminal Code, as applicable at the time when the offences had been committed, the maximum term of thirty years’ imprisonment corresponded to the maximum term that could be served (condena) in the event of multiple related offences, as distinct from the concept of the “sentences” (penas) pronounced or imposed in the various judgments...

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