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On September 12th 1998 around 2pm, Mr. Alain Dubois was found dead in a public park near the railway station of Pau. He had suffered serious head injuries and multiple trauma.

The police officers in charge of the investigation didn’t treat the area as a scene of crime. They didn’t collect and safeguard any evidence on the scene and on the body. They didn’t document postmortem changes to establish the location of injury and the time and place of death. No documentation of the social, medical and mental health history of the decedent was made. The police officers didn’t launch a witness appeal. Some pictures of the body were taken and a quick visual examination was made by a family doctor.

Around 6pm, a police officer notified the next of kin of the death of Mr. Dubois. He added that the police investigation on cause of death (art.74 of the code of penal procedure) concluded that his death was a suicide. On September 15th 1998, the prosecutor Dreno closed the investigation without ordering an autopsy, and authorized the release of the body for burial. On September 18th 1998, the funeral took place.

On September 24th 1998, the family of the decedent pressed charges for murder and requested an autopsy. It was the start of a 8 years  legal battle which cost the family €25,000. They had to pay a large deposit and hire several lawyers to request that the police conduct a second investigation and to have them perform essential investigative work (DNA testing, hair analysis, autopsy, blood test, reenactment, interrogation of witnesses). Several of their requests were denied (witness appeal, interrogation of witnesses). On August 9th 2006, the investigative judge decided to close the investigation. On October 24th 2006, the appeal court of Pau confirmed his decision. On May 9th 2007, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) rejected the appeal of the family without holding any hearing (art. 567-1-1 of the code of penal procedure).

On November 17th 2007, the family filed an application with the ECHR (see below) arguing that the authorities didn’t act of their own motion for the the second investigation. The applicants added that the 8 years investigation suffered considerable delays and was conducted only to confirm the findings of “suicide” of the first investigation. They alleged a violation of articles 2, 6-1 and 13 of the Convention. The application was not communicated by the Court to the agent of the French Republic.

On July 7th 2011, the grand chamber of the Court stated again in its judgment Al-Skeini and others v. UK (55721/07) : “165. What form of investigation will achieve the purposes of Article 2 may vary (..). However, (..), the authorities must act of their own motion (..). They cannot leave it to the initiative of the next-of-kin either to lodge a formal complaint or to take responsibility for the conduct of any investigative procedures (..) 166. (..) The authorities must take the reasonable steps available to them to secure the evidence concerning the incident, including inter alia eye-witness testimony, forensic evidence and, where appropriate, an autopsy (..).

On November 15th 2011, the Judges of the 5th section found the application inadmissible on the ground that several requests of the family “were granted within reasonable time” in the 2nd investigation. They added that the 2nd investigation was effective. The Judges didn’t rule on the effectiveness of the first investigation and on the fact that the 2nd investigation was at the initiative of the next of kin.

In autumn 1977, Ms. Agnes Roux disappeared. On August 13th 1983, Mr. Maurice Agnelet was suspected of her “murder” by an investigative judge, following the criminal complain of the mother of Ms. Agnes Roux. On April 23th 1986, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Aix en Provence, confirmed the decision of the investigative judge to close the investigation without charging any suspect. On February 1st 1988, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) rejected the appeal of the mother of Ms. Agnes Roux (case 86-92512).

On December 20th 2000, Mr. Maurice Agnelet was again suspected of her “murder” by another investigative judge. On October 26th 2005, he was charged with “murder” by the investigation chamber. On December 20th 2006, he was acquitted by the criminal court of Nice. But the prosecutor appealed the acquittal (art.380-2 of the code of penal procedure). On October 11th 2007, he was found guilty of “murder” by the criminal court of Aix en Provence and sentenced to 20 years in prison. On October 15th 2008, the supreme court rejected his appeal (case 07-87723).

On December 11th 2008, Mr. Maurice Agnelet filed an application to the ECHR (see below) on the ground that the 20 years investigation and the prosecution after the expiry of the statute of limitation were both in violation of articles 6-1, 6-2 and 13 that the formal charge of October 26th 2005 didn’t contain in detail the nature and cause of the accusation of “murder” (where?, when?, how?) in violation of article 6-3-a) and the 2 questions of the head judge to the jury on a new charge of “complicity to commit murder” on the last day of the trial was another violation of article 6-3-a).

He added that the ruling of the 3 judges of the criminal court on October 9th 2007 which stated that he “lied“, was a violation of article 6-1,  that the head judge refused to record the closing argument of the prosecutor on October 9th 2007 in violation of article 6-1, that the head judge had printed a decision where the jury found him guilty before its deliberation in violation of article 6-1 and that the criminal court judgment was groundless in regards to his guilt and to the length of his sentence in violation of article 6-1. On December 13th 2010 and August 17th 2011, the applicant submitted two additional briefs (brief 1, brief 2). The applicant is represented by Me Francois Saint-Pierre (Lyon/Paris).

On September 27th 2011, the 5th section of the Court ruled that the application was only admissible for the lack of ground of the criminal judgment, and communicated the application to the agent of French Republic with questions to be answered within 16 weeks. Surprisingly, the 5th section found that the formal charge of October 26th 2005 was not in violation of article 6-3-a) on the ground that it was a “93 pages brief” that detailed the “attitude of the defendant with the family” of Ms. Agnes Roux.

On April 24th 1983, Mr. Pierre Atallah a Lebanese lawyer, is shot dead by several French soldiers of the FINUL in unclear circumstances. An investigation is done by the French military police and another one by the Lebanese military police.

In 1999, the family discovered evidence contained in the Lebanese military police report which contradicts the findings of self-defense made in the French  military police investigation.

In March 2001, the family filed at the tribunal of Paris, a civil lawsuit against the French minister of defense. On July 31th 2003, the court dismissed the case, claiming to be incompetent. On December 16th 2005, the appeal court of Paris dismissed the appeal. On May 10th 2007, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) rejected their claim (case 06-12532).

On November 9th 2007, the applicants filed their case with the E.C.H.R arguing a violation of article 2 and 6-1 of the Convention. .On November 4th 2009, the case was communicated to the French government. The applicants are represented by Me Bertrand Favreau (Bordeaux).

Update :

On August 31st 2011, the Court ruled the application inadmissible on the ludicrous ground that the applicants should have filed their application with the Court within 6 months of…a meeting with the Lebanese military police on April 24th 1983. The Court also concluded that the applicants couldn’t hope that the civil lawsuit in French courts the death will bring a “new light to the case“.

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