Euroopa Inimõiguste Kohus
08.01.2013

Facts

The applicant, Mr. Baltiņš was contacted on several occasions by an undercover police agent in order to make a “test” purchase of amphetamine. The purchase was authorised and carried out as part of investigative activity and conversations between the applicant and police agent recorded. On two occasions Mr. Baltiņš sold amphetamine to the police officer. The court later convicted Mr. Baltiņš of aggravated unauthorized acquisition and possession of narcotic substances with intent to sell based on evidence obtained by the undercover police agent.

Complaint

Mr. Baltiņš complained that he had not had a fair trial – his conviction was a result of unlawful incitement by an undercover police agent to commit an offence.

Court’s ruling

As a general principle it was for the national courts to assess the evidence brought before them, but it had to ascertain whether the proceedings as a whole, including the way in which evidence was taken, were fair. The Court reminded that the use of evidence obtained as a result of police incitement would compromise this fairness. It had to be assessed whether the investigative activity of the police officers went beyond that of undercover agents, in other words, whether the offence would have been committed without the authorities’ intervention. From the procedural aspect the Court had to ascertain whether the applicant was able to argue the incitement plea effectively and whether the domestic courts took the necessary steps to establish that no police incitement had taken place. To do that the national courts had to establish the reasons why the operation was mounted, the extent of the police’s involvement in the offence and the nature of the activities to which the applicant was subjected. In the present case the Court found that the national courts had not determined Mr. Baltiņš’ plea of incitement as almost all the evidence brought before the domestic courts were automatically found to be admissible and the courts did not even try to obtain the classified information about the undercover operation. Therefore there was a violation of the applicant’s right to fair trial.