The applicant, Mr Urtāns, was accused of burglaries. He spent almost a year in a pre-trial detention. The necessity of his detention was reviewed for several times during that period. The decisions ordering his further detention were based on the fact that the detention of Mr Urtāns was necessary ‘to ensure public safety’ and ‘to prevent another criminal offence’. They found that there was a possibility that the applicant ‘would commit another criminal offence’ if released.
Mr Urtāns argued that the prolonged detention violated Article 5 of the Convention.
The Court emphasized that for the prolonged detention to be lawful concrete grounds must be given by the court justifying it.
First of all – there must be a reasonable suspicion that the person committed an offence and this suspicion must stay reasonable during the whole detention on remand period.
After a certain lapse of time, the mere existence of a reasonable suspicion no longer suffices as a justification for detention. Other reasons justifying the purpose of the detention must be given.
Moreover, those reasons given must not be laconic and without reference to any legal provision which would have permitted the applicant’s detention.
In the present case:
The Court found that the national courts had based their decisions on the previous conclusions of the investigative judge and the pertinent court, and that they did not themselves examine if reasonable suspicion still persisted. Instead they referred to the necessity ‘to ensure public safety’ and ‘to prevent another criminal offence’. The Court noted that those indeed could be grounds for detention, however, cannot be used as the sole grounds without examining the ‘reasonable suspicion’ requirement first.
The Court further stated that the existence of the public safety threats and the possibility to re-offend was not based on the assessment of the facts of the case, but had been referred to very laconically without analyzing the particular circumstances.
Therefore the Court ruled that the prolonged detention of Mr Urtāns was not based on the ‘relevant and sufficient’ reasons in violation of Article 5(1) of the Convention.