The applicant, Mr. Pakelli, was convicted for smuggling drugs into Germany. In the first instances of court he was represented by a lawyer appointed by court. After the judgment of the court of appeal the applicant was released and returned to Turkey. When he applied to receive a legal representation in the proceedings concerning his appeal on points of law, his request was dismissed as an accused who was at liberty was not entitled to such an appointment for hearings in an appeal on a point of law and his presence was not obligatory in the hearing. The applicant was not represented in the admissibility hearing.
Mr. Pakelli claimed that the refusal of the Federal Court to appoint a defense counsel in proceedings concerning an appeal on points of law violated his right to fair trial.
The Court pointed out that Article 6(3)(c) of the Convention guarantees three rights to a person charged with a criminal offence:
- to defend himself in person
- to defend himself through legal assistance of his own choosing
- on certain conditions, to be given legal assistance free.
This means that a "person charged with a criminal offence" who does not wish to defend himself in person must be able to have recourse to legal assistance of his own choosing; if he does not have sufficient means to pay for such assistance, he is entitled under the Convention to be given it free when the interests of justice so require.
In the case at hand the Court found that it was difficult to prove that Mr. Pakelli lacked financial means at the time of the proceedings. However, the national court had not accepted his offer to submit an order proving his lack of financial means. In the absence of facts clearly indicating that Mr. Pakelli could have afforded a lawyer, the Court concluded that the first of previously mentioned conditions was satisfied.
The Court also found that the interests of justice required that Mr. Pakelli be granted legal assistance for the hearings before the Federal Court as the case was complicated. The Court also found that Mr. Pakelli was deprived of possibility to influence the outcome of the hearing since he was not able to comment on and refute the arguments raised by the public prosecutor in the hearing. Therefore the Court ruled that refusal to grant legal assistance violated the applicant’s right to a fair trial.