Vorontsov and others v. Ukraine (Applications nos. 58925/14 and 4 others)
A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgment.CASE-OF-VORONTSOV-AND-OTHERS-v.-UKRAINE
42. The Court refers to the general principles in relation to Article 5 § 1 of the Convention outlined inShmorgunov and Others (cited above, §§ 459‑61). Turning to the present case, the Court notes that between 19 and 22 February 2014 the applicants were detained in the framework of the administrative-offence proceedings against them, which were initiated in connection with their actual or suspected participation in the demonstration in Kharkiv on 19 February 2014 (see paragraphs 7 and 8 above). While it is true that shortly after their arrest on that date the police questioned the applicants as witnesses in connection with the criminal case which was also opened regarding the demonstration at issue (see paragraph 11 above), eventually no criminal charges were brought against them and there is an insufficient basis in the facts to suggest that the applicants were treated as criminal suspects during that period (compare and contrast with, for instance, Oleksiy Mykhaylovych Zakharkin v. Ukraine, no. 1727/04, §§ 86‑88, 24 June 2010).
43. The applicants’ detention during the major part of the period in question (between 20 and 22 February 2014) was based on the decisions of the Chervonozavodskyy District Court which convicted them of the administrative offence under Article 185 of the Code of Administrative Offences and imposed on them fifteen days administrative detention. This kind of detention would normally fall within the scope of the restriction permitted by Article 5 § 1 (a) of the Convention (see, among many other authorities,Gurepka v. Ukraine, no. 61406/00, § 39, 6 September 2005). However, the Court observes that there are strong indications that the applicants’ detention during the period they served their administrative-offence sentences was marred by significant procedural flaws, which went beyond mere irregularities or a lack of safeguards in the relevant procedures, and might have involved an element of arbitrariness (see, mutatis mutandis, Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia [GC], no. 48787/99, § 461, ECHR 2004‑VII; Stoichkov v. Bulgaria, no. 9808/02, § 51, 24 March 2005; Othman (Abu Qatada) v. the United Kingdom, no. 8139/09, § 259, ECHR 2012; and Gumeniuc v. the Republic of Moldova, no. 48829/06, §§ 24-25, 16 May 2017).
44. In particular, the administrative-offence decisions appear to have been based almost exclusively on the police reports and records, which were couched in vague terms and lacked detailed information regarding the events. The Chervonozavodskyy District Court simply reproduced those reports and records, accepting them at face value, without making any effort to verify the underlying facts, for instance, by questioning witnesses, reviewing the available video-recordings or employing other appropriate procedural means, having regard to the fact that most of the applicants denied having committed any offence (see paragraphs 13 and 19 above).
46. In sum, the material available does not provide a basis to conclude that the Chervonozavodskyy District Court scrutinised sufficiently the police statements in relation to the applicants, which was indispensable in their cases, given the dispute over the key element underlying the charges (namely, the applicants’ alleged disobedience) and the fact that essentially the only evidence against the applicants originated from the police reports (seeKasparov and Others v. Russia, no. 21613/07, § 64, 3 October 2013).
47. The Court also notes that the decision closing the criminal case concerning the demonstration of 19 February 2014, and the decisions taken in the course of the disciplinary proceedings against the judges concerned, point to the fact that the charges against the applicants were not based on sufficient or reliable evidence (see paragraphs 11 and 28 above).
48. The foregoing considerations suggest that the applicants were convicted and sentenced in a virtually identical summary manner, without a thorough and objective assessment of their cases. Given the gravity of the underlying defects identified in relation to those proceedings, the Court considers that in the particular circumstances of the case there is sufficient basis to conclude that the applicants’ detention “after conviction”, which they had served in part, was not “lawful” within the meaning of Article 5 § 1 (a) of the Convention (see,mutatis mutandis, Stoichkov, cited above, § 58, and Gumeniuc, cited above, § 26).
49. The Court thus finds that the applicants’ detention during the period they served the administrative-offence sentences initially imposed on them (between 20 and 22 February 2014) was in breach of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.