The applicants, Mr. Harakchiev and Mr. Tolumov, were sentenced to life imprisonment. They served their sentence in isolation spending 21 to 22 hours a day in their cells. They were allowed to use the toilet out of their cells only three times a day. They had to resort to use of a bucket at other times.
The applicants alleged a violation of Article 3 of the Convention as the conditions in prison were degrading.
The Court was struck by the lack of ready access to toilet facilities in the cells of the applicants. The Court was not convinced that the possibility to call the guard and ask them to open the cells was practical, as several findings of international human rights institutions showed that calling prison guards caused conflicts. In addition the guards sometimes ignored such calls. Therefore the Court considered that the distress and hardship endured by the applicants, caused by the lack of toilet facilities as well as other unsatisfying conditions in prison exceeded the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and went beyond the minimum threshold of severity required by Article 3 of the Convention.