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Source: European Court of Human Rights

The applicant, Ioan Nicolet Potcoavă, is a Romanian national who was born in 1969 and lives in Ungheni (Romania). The case concerned the fairness of Mr Potcoavă’s conviction of rape. He was arrested on 4 July 2002 and alleged that he was beaten on the way to the police station and all through the night in order to make him confess to several rapes.

He was convicted in August 2003 on the basis of his confession but this decision was later overturned on appeal in October 2003 and the confession set aside as the applicant had not been assisted by a lawyer during his initial police questioning. Following a further criminal investigation, he was acquitted in October 2006 on the ground that Mr Potcoavă had had an alibi and the evidence against him was inconclusive.

Ultimately, however, in September 2007 that judgment was reversed and the County Court, basing its decision on Mr Potcoavă’s initial confession to the police, convicted him of three counts of rape and one of attempted rape and sentenced him to just over one year and six months’ imprisonment. In the
meantime, his criminal complaint for police ill-treatment was dismissed as unsubstantiated. Relying in particular on Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) (right to a fair trial / right to legal assistance of own choosing), Mr Potcoavă alleged that the criminal proceedings against him had been unfair in particular because his confession, made during his police custody without the assistance of a lawyer, had been used for his conviction.

Violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c)

Just satisfaction: EUR 2,400 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 400 (costs and expenses)

  • Geographical area: Europe
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