Moldoveanu v. the Republic of Moldova (Application no. 53660/15)
A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.CASE-OF-MOLDOVEANU-v.-THE-REPUBLIC-OF-MOLDOVA
54. In so far as the reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed the offence imputed to her is concerned, the prosecutor contended that it consisted of two elements: (a) the victims’ and the witnesses’ statements and (b) the applicant’s denial of the validity of her signature on the receipt of 2 February 2014 (see paragraph 22 above). At the same time, when referring to the grounds for detention, the prosecutor admitted that the victims’ statements could not be verified at that time due to the applicant’s lack of cooperation (see paragraph 23 above). The prosecutor did not indicate which witnesses he referred to and did not make any submission in respect of any witness statement. He also omitted to inform the court of the existence of several other receipts undisputed by the applicant, the settlement agreement signed by her and V.G. on 26 January 2015, the judgment of 27 March 2015 in the civil proceedings (which had become final during the applicant’s detention) and the fact that the applicant had not appealed against that judgment. In other words, (a) the truthfulness of the victims’ statements was entirely unverified and (b) the prosecutor presented truncated and misleading information to the court in respect of the remaining element of reasonable suspicion.
55. Notwithstanding the above, the Rîşcani District Court and the Chișinău Court of Appeal allowed the prosecutor’s applications and ordered the applicant’s custody for some forty days. When ordering and extending the applicant’s detention, the courts were not in possession of any evidence to suggest that the applicant had not intended to repay the debt at the time of borrowing or that she had known that repaying it would be impossible. The courts did not verify the value of the applicant’s assets at the time of borrowing, nor did they question what the money had been borrowed for and whether it had been used for that purpose. They did not enquire whether a civil avenue for recovering the debt had been used by the alleged victims and, if not, for what reason. Neither did the courts enquire whether V.G. had attempted to seek enforcement of the judgment of 27 March 2015.
56. When extending the applicant’s detention, after the applicant had already been detained, the courts did not enquire whether the prosecutor had verified the victims’ statements and did not enquire why it took the prosecutor three weeks after the applicant’s arrest to question her for the first time. It would therefore appear that the courts accepted unreservedly and without any prior verification the position of V.G. and his wife which, for obvious reasons, could not be considered objective and unbiased. Moreover, they accepted without any reservation the incomplete and misleading statements made by the prosecutor in his applications to detain the applicant and to prolong her detention.
57. In the light of the above, the Court is not satisfied that the material put forward by the prosecuting authority and relied upon by the domestic courts to detain the applicant and prolong her detention was sufficient to persuade an objective observer that the applicant might have committed the offence imputed to her. It concludes therefore that the applicant’s detention between 14 May and 23 June 2015 was not based on a reasonable suspicion that she had committed an offence and thus there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.