Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan (Application no. 15172/13)

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

87. The Court reiterates that in order for an arrest on reasonable suspicion to be justified under Article 5 § 1 (c), it is not necessary for the police to have obtained sufficient evidence to bring charges, either at the point of arrest or while the applicant is in custody (see Brogan and Others v. the United Kingdom, 29 November 1988, § 53, Series A no. 145‑B). Nor is it necessary that the person detained should ultimately have been charged or taken before a court. The object of detention for questioning is to further a criminal investigation by confirming or discontinuing suspicions which provide the grounds for detention. Thus, facts which raise a suspicion need not be of the same level as those necessary to justify a conviction or even the bringing of a charge, which comes at the next stage of the process of criminal investigation (see Murray v. the United Kingdom, 28 October 1994, § 55, Series A no. 300‑A).
88. However, the requirement that the suspicion must be based on reasonable grounds forms an essential part of the safeguard against arbitrary arrest and detention. The fact that a suspicion is held in good faith is insufficient. The words “reasonable suspicion” mean the existence of facts or information which would satisfy an objective observer that the person concerned may have committed the offence. What may be regarded as “reasonable” will depend upon all the circumstances (see Fox, Campbell and Hartley v. the United Kingdom, 30 August 1990, § 32, Series A no. 182). The length of the deprivation of liberty may also be material to the level of suspicion required (see Murray, cited above, § 56).

94. The Court notes that, as a general rule, problems concerning the existence of a “reasonable suspicion” arise at the level of the facts. The question then is whether the arrest and detention were based on sufficient objective elements to justify a “reasonable suspicion” that the facts at issue had actually occurred (see Włoch v. Poland, no. 27785/95, § 108, ECHR 2000‑XI). (…) The Court’s task is to verify whether there existed sufficient objective elements that could lead an objective observer to reasonably believe that the applicant might have committed the acts alleged by the prosecuting authorities.

96. In particular, the Court notes that the prosecution’s official documents mentioned no witness statements and no other specific information that had given them reason to suspect the applicant of having committed any of the actions described in those documents and to charge him with the above-mentioned criminal offences. No such statements or other information was presented to the courts deciding on the applicant’s remand in custody. Thus, the Court finds it established that the prosecution’s case file was neither presented to nor reviewed by the domestic courts for the purpose of verifying the existence of a “reasonable suspicion”.

100. (…) the Court finds that the material put before it does not meet the minimum standard set by Article 5 § 1 (c) of the Convention for the reasonableness of a suspicion required for an individual’s arrest and continued detention. Accordingly, it has not been demonstrated in a satisfactory manner that, during the period under the Court’s consideration in the present case, the applicant was deprived of his liberty on a “reasonable suspicion” of having committed a criminal offence.


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