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By the ruling 10-83204 of November 9th 2010, the French supreme court (Cour de cassation) released officially the information that Mr. H, a French scientist was arrested on October 8th 2009 at 6:05  at his home in Vienne (France). He was interrogated by police officers in the absence of his lawyer during a police custody which lasted 91h25.  He was then detained under an arrest warrant  issued by an investigating judge (art.122 of the code of penal procedure).

According to one of his family member, Mr. H was detained ever since in the notorious prison of Fresnes pending further investigation (visit report of CPT in 2006). His police interrogation is described by the same source as “very very harsh” and from October 2009 to February 2010, Mr. H was placed in the infirmary of the prison (“national public health center of Fresnes“). Since then, he has limited access to health care and has to walk with a cane. Moreover, in January 2011, he was violently attacked by another inmate in the yard. In a letter, Mr. H describes the detention condition in the prison of Fresnes as a “permanent  and multiple violations of [the] human rights [of the detainees]” and complains of the cold and humidity of his cell.

The investigation file on Mr. H and the charges he is facing 16 months after his arrest are still secret (art.11 of the code of penal procedure) as the district attorney of the tribunal of Paris, Mr. Jean-Claude Marin never released officially any information on the case. There is no indication that this secret investigation will lead to a trial.

According to his lawyer Me Dominique Beyreuther-Minkov (Paris), the attorney general of the appeal court of Paris, Mr. Francois Falletti even obtained that all the detention hearings of Mr. H are held in secret by an investigation chamber of the appeal court of Paris. This in derogation with article 199 of the code of penal procedure. She added that the rulings by the appeal court of Paris, on the detention of Mr. H, were also secret.  This appears to be a violation  of article R156 of the code of penal procedure.

The attorney general office of the appeal court of Paris didn’t return our email requesting official information on the cause of the arrest and detention of Mr. H, the charges he is facing, and a copy of the rulings of the appeal court of Paris on his detention pending investigation.

Following the ruling 10-83204 of November 9th 2010,  his lawyer stated that she will file an application with the ECHR invoking the violation of article 6 due to the absence of his lawyer during the police interrogation.

Mr. H is also determined to file an application with the ECHR for violations of articles 5-3 and 5-4 of the Convention if his appeals of the detention rulings are rejected by the supreme court.

Update May 3rd 2011 :

On March 15th 2011, the French supreme court rejected his appeal 10-88750 on the decision of the appeal court of Paris of November 19th 2010 to reject his motion to be released pending investigation. Mr. H complained that his detention at the prison of Fresnes amounted to a violation of article 3 of the Convention due to his poor health and the lack of proper health care.

On April 5th 2011, Mr. H filed an application (21489/11) with the ECHR.

In 2003 and 2004, the 5 applicants were all arrested on the suspicion to be members of the organization ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna). Within 2 to 4 days of their arrest, they were all suspected by an investigating judge of “membership of a group whose goal is to commit terrorist act” (article 421-2-1 of the penal code) and were ordered to be detained pending investigation.

On January 23th 2007, the investigating judge decided that they were enough evidence against the 5 applicants to go to trial.  The 5 applicants were detained while awaiting trial.

On July 25th 2008, the investigation chamber ordered further detention for 6 months of the 5 applicants. On November 26th and December 2th 2008, the supreme court rejected the appeals of the 5 applicants (08-86233, 08-86234, 08-86230, 08-86235 , 08-86236).

On December 17th 2008, the 5 applicants were condemned respectively to 19 years, 10 years, 17 years, 6 years and 10 years in jail.

On May 25th 2009, the 5 applicants filed each an application with the E.C.H.R arguing that their detention of  up to almost 6 years, pending investigation and while awaiting trial were a violation of article 5-3 of the Convention, that the fact that the 5 applicants chose to exercise their rights to remain silent justified for the French judges to extend their detention was another violation of article 5-3 and that the detention of the 5 applicants in temporary detention  jails (maison d’arret) before and after their trial was a violation of article 8 of the Convention.

On April 21th 2010, the 5 applications (29119/0929101/09, 29116/09, 29095/09, 29109/09) were communicated to the agent of the French Republic with questions to be answered before 16 weeks. The applicants are represented by Me Amaia Recarte  (Bayonne) who didn’t return our emails.

On July 1st 2008, Human Rights Watch released a report “Preempting Justice” on investigations and trials on terrorism charges in France. In this report, HRW describes the due process to  order detention pending investigation “Presumption in Favor of Detention” (p27) and made recommendations to the ministry of Justice to “prevent unjustified lengthy pretrial detention” (p79).


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