Gäfgen v. Germany (Application no. 22978/05)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.

102. In so far as the duration of the impugned conduct is concerned, the Court notes that the interrogation under threat of ill-treatment lasted for approximately ten minutes.

103. […] The Court therefore considers that the real and immediate threats of deliberate and imminent ill-treatment to which the applicant was subjected during his interrogation must be regarded as having caused him considerable fear, anguish and mental suffering. […]

104. The Court further observes that the threat was not a spontaneous act but was premeditated and calculated in a deliberate and intentional manner.

105. As regards the purpose of the threats, the Court is satisfied that the applicant was intentionally subjected to such treatment in order to extract information on J.’s whereabouts.

106. The Court further notes that the threats of deliberate and imminent ill-treatment were made in the context of the applicant being in the custody of law-enforcement officials, apparently handcuffed, and thus in a state of vulnerability. It is clear that D. and E. acted in the performance of their duties as State agents and that they intended, if necessary, to carry out that threat under medical supervision and by a specially trained officer. Moreover, D.’s order to threaten the applicant was not a spontaneous decision, since he had given such an order on a number of earlier occasions and had become increasingly impatient at the non-compliance of his subordinates with his directions. The threat took place in an atmosphere of heightened tension and emotions in circumstances where the police officers were under intense pressure, believing that J.’s life was in considerable danger.

108. […] a threat of torture can amount to torture, as the nature of torture covers both physical pain and mental suffering. In particular, the fear of physical torture may itself constitute mental torture. However, there appears to be broad agreement, and the Court likewise considers, that the classification of whether a given threat of physical torture amounted to psychological torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment depends upon all the circumstances of a given case, including, notably, the severity of the pressure exerted and the intensity of the mental suffering caused. Contrasting the applicant’s case to those in which torture has been found to be established in its case-law, the Court considers that the method of interrogation to which he was subjected in the circumstances of this case was sufficiently serious to amount to inhuman treatment prohibited by Article 3, but that it did not reach the level of cruelty required to attain the threshold of torture. [emphasis added by PHRP]


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