Lalik v. Poland (Application no. 47834/19)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.

58.  The Court emphasises once again the importance of the investigation stage for the preparation of criminal proceedings, as the evidence obtained during this stage determines the framework within which the offence with which an accused is charged will be considered at trial (see Salduz v. Turkey [GC], no. 36391/02, § 54, ECHR 2008). Any conversation between a detained criminal suspect and the police must be treated as formal contact and cannot be characterised as informal questioning or as an informal interview, thus allowing for a circumvention of basic procedural rights enshrined in Article 6 § 3 of the Convention (see Ayetullah Ay, cited above, § 137). 

62.  The Court reiterates that the receipt by the accused of information about the rights to remain silent, not to incriminate himself and to consult a lawyer is one of the guarantees enabling him to exercise his defence rights (see Simeonovi v. Bulgaria [GC], no. 21980/04, § 128, 12 May 2017). In the described above circumstances, the Court is not persuaded that the information given to the applicant by the investigators was sufficiently clear to guarantee the effective exercise by the applicant of his rights to remain silent, not to incriminate himself and to consult a lawyer. 

67.  The parties did not comment on whether the applicant had been vulnerable. However, owing to his intoxication (see paragraph 9 above), the applicant was in a vulnerable position at the time of his arrest and the authorities should have taken this into account when apprising him of his rights (see, mutatis mutandis, Płonka v. Poland, no. 20310/02, § 38, 31 March 2009). 

80.  The Court considers that the practice of conducting a session of informal questioning after arrest, in breach of the guarantees enshrined in Article 6 § 3 of the Convention, and in particular in the absence of any information to the arrestee about his/her rights, combined with questioning during the trial of an officer who prepared an official note, puts the arrestee at a disadvantageous position from the very start of the investigation in question. It finds it concerning that the domestic courts not only endorsed such an approach, but also made direct references to the applicant’s initial explanations (given in the morning after the incident, when he had no time yet to think what would be beneficial to him and what detrimental”) and considered them particularly credible (see paragraph 20 above). In the Court’s view, such reasoning goes against the concept of a fair trial (see Salduz, cited above, § 53). 


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