Европейский суд по правам человека
27 июня 2000 года

Facts

The applicant was the wife of Mr. Salman. He was detained by the police and interrogated. After some time he was taken to the hospital because his heartbeat, breathing and other vital functions had stopped, cyanosis had developed on the face and ears and the pupils were dilated. The doctors declared him dead on arrival. Although Mr. Salman had not previously been diagnosed with one, his death was attributed to a heart disease.

Complaint

The applicant claimed that the death of her husband violated Article 2 of the Convention.

Court's ruling

The Court reiterated that the circumstances in which deprivation of life may be justified must be strictly construed. Article 2 must be interpreted and applied so as to make its safeguards practical and effective. Article 2 covers not only intentional killing but also the situations where it is permitted to “use force” which may result, as an unintended outcome, in the deprivation of life. 

The deliberate or intended use of lethal force is only one factor to be taken into account in assessing its necessity. Any use of force must be no more than “absolutely necessary” for the achievement of one or more of the purposes set out in Article 2. The Court emphasized that persons in custody are in a vulnerable position and the authorities are under a duty to protect them. Where an individual is taken into police custody in good health and is found to be injured on release, it is incumbent on the State to provide a plausible explanation of how those injuries were caused.This obligation is particularly stringent where that individual dies. 

In the case at hand the Court emphasized that any use of force and the consequences of it should be properly documented. The Court noted that the initial autopsy had not been properly documented and recorded. It also found that the medical examination of the body revealed that the cause of death was the torture during Mr.Salman’s interrogation rather than a heart disease. Since the state was unable to explain Mr. Salman’s injuries and why the initial autopsy was incomplete, the Court found a violation of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention.