The applicant, Mr. Galstyan, was detained by police in connection with participation in a demonstration. On the police report he signed, he also wrote: “I do not wish to have a lawyer”. He was later sentenced to three days administrative arrest. No lawyer was representing him in the police station or in the court.
Mr. Galstyan complained that he was tricked into refusing legal representation, in violation of his right to fair trial.
The Court reiterated that, although not absolute, the right of everyone charged with a criminal offence to be effectively defended by a lawyer is one of the fundamental features of a fair trial. However, right to be represented by a lawyer is one of the guaranteed of a fair trial that can be waived if the waiver is expressed clearly and unequivocally.
In the present case the Court emphasized that Mr. Galstyan himself did not wish to have a lawyer both during the pre-trial stage and the court proceedings. There was also no evidence that he had been tricked into waiving his right to a lawyer, therefore the Armenian authorities could not be held responsible for the fact that he was not legally represented in the course of the administrative proceedings against him. Accordingly there was no violation of the applicant’s right to a fair trial.