Kuchta and Mętel v. Poland (Application no. 76813/16)
A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.CASE-OF-KUCHTA-AND-METEL-v.-POLAND
73. The applicants also complained that they had been beaten by the police officers after being handcuffed and taken to the police station. In this connection the Court notes that it remains unclear whether force had been used against the applicants at the police station as the investigation did not elucidate this issue. Neither the prosecutor nor the Government demonstrated that the applicants had engaged in any conduct that might have justified the use of force against them after they had been subdued and transported to the police station.
74. In the Court’s view, the absence of such explanation, either at the domestic investigation stage or before the Court, gives rise to a strong adverse inference that the force used by the police force officers to overcome resistance by the applicants was excessive and disproportionate. The use of such force had as a consequence injuries, which undoubtedly caused serious suffering to the applicants of a nature amounting to inhuman treatment (see Rehbock, cited above, § 77).
75. In view of the above considerations the Court finds that the measures taken against the applicants in the present case amounted to a conduct in breach of Article 3 of the Convention. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in its substantive aspect.
88. The Court acknowledges the difficulty the prosecuting authorities face in a case, in which allegations of use excessive force are made, in a context in which the persons concerned resisted the police. However, in view of the foregoing considerations, the Court finds it unsatisfactory that the authorities did not undertake all the required steps to try to provide answers to a number of major questions arising in the case, including how and when the officers had used force against the applicants, whether its use had been proportionate, and what had caused the injuries noted. Having regard to the multiple injuries sustained by the applicants, those are significant flaws in the investigation in the present case.
89. In particular, the investigation failed to determine important factual circumstances of the case, that is to say when exactly the applicants’ injuries occurred, whether still in the second applicant’s flat or later when they were handcuffed and transported to the Nowa Huta police station. The authorities focused on the arrest and the dynamic nature of the incident in the flat but overlooked the applicants’ allegations of beatings at the police station.
92. Against this background, in view of the lack of a thorough and effective investigation into the applicants’ arguable claim that they had been beaten by police officers, the Court finds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in its procedural aspect.