Case of European Court of Human Rights, July 13, 2010 (case Tendam v. Spain)

Resolution DateJuly 13, 2010

Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 132

July 2010

Tendam v. Spain - 25720/05

Judgment 13.7.2010 [Section III]

Article 6

Article 6-2

Presumption of innocence

Refusal to award compensation for pre-trial detention because applicant acquitted for lack of evidence: violation

Article 1 of Protocol No. 1

Article 1 para. 1 of Protocol No. 1

Peaceful enjoyment of possessions

Refusal to award compensation for loss or deterioration of property seized in criminal proceedings: violation

Facts – Two sets of criminal proceedings were brought against the applicant. In the first set, he was detained pending trial for 135 days, and was subsequently convicted at first instance and acquitted on appeal. In the second set of proceedings he was likewise acquitted and sought the recovery of possessions seized from him during the investigation. Although some of the items were returned to him, he noticed that they were damaged and that others had disappeared. He applied to the Ministry of Justice and the Interior for compensation, both for the damage resulting from his pre-trial detention and for the malfunctioning of the justice system that had led to the failure to return the seized items or to their loss in value. His application was dismissed under both heads. The applicant applied to the Audiencia Nacional for judicial review of that decision but without success. He subsequently lodged an appeal on points of law with the Supreme Court and an amparo appeal with the Constitutional Court, to no avail.

Law – Article 6 § 2: In dismissing the applicant’s claim for compensation for his pre-trial detention, the Ministry had relied on the fact that he had been acquitted on appeal for lack of sufficient evidence. Such reasoning, without qualification or reservation, cast doubt on the applicant’s innocence. In making a distinction between an acquittal for lack of evidence and an acquittal based on the finding that the alleged offence had not been committed, it had disregarded the applicant’s previous acquittal, which had to be taken into account by any judicial authority regardless of the reasons given for the criminal court’s decision. The national courts, for their part, had simply endorsed the Ministry’s reasoning without remedying the issue arising.

Conclusion: violation (unanimously).

Article 1 of Protocol No. 1: The seizure complained of by the applicant had not been designed to deprive him of his possessions but to prevent him...

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