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On March 13th 2010, S.C is placed in police custody in Liege and interrogated by police officers on a murder charge. She is not allowed to receive any legal assistance from a lawyer. On March 14th 2010, the applicant is interrogated by an investigating judge of the tribunal without any legal assistance. Belgium law didn’t authorize suspect in custody to receive any legal assistance at this stage of the investigation.

On June 3rd 2010, the investigation chamber of the appeal court of Liege refused to suppress transcripts of these interrogations.

On December 3rd 2010, the applicant submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that lack of legal assistance in custody was a violation of articles 5-1, 6-1 and 6-3 of the Convention. The applicant is represented by 3 lawyers of Defenso, Mr. Marc Neve, Ms. Sandra Berbuto and Ms. Estelle Berthe. On May 4th 2011, the application was communicated to the agent of the Belgium government with questions to be answered within 16 weeks.

On 7th June 1999, the applicant was arrested for “attempted murder” and placed in police custody. The next day, he was put under oath and interrogated before he could meet his lawyer. On 9th June 1999, he was suspected of complicity to commit murder and detained in jail pending investigation. On December 8th 2001, he was released on his own recognizance. On March 1st 2002, the charge was changed to “aggravated assault“.

On October 31st 2002, he was condemned for “aggravated assault” by the tribunal of Paris to 5 years in jail. On October 26th 2004, his appeal to the court of appeal of Paris failed. The court motivated its ruling with the judgment of the tribunal of Paris. On June 27th 2006, the supreme court (Cour de cassation) rejected his appeal.

On December 26th 2006, the applicant lodged an application with the Court arguing that to be put under oath was a violation of articles 6-1 and 6-3 of the Convention, that the lack of new motivation of the court of appeal of Paris was a violation of article 6-1 and that his detention of 2 years and 6 months pending investigation was a violation of article 5-3. On March 24th 2009, the application was communicated to the agent for the French government. On September 29th 2009, the applicant requested the Court to organize a public hearing on the case. It was rejected by the Court.

On October 14th 2010, the Court ruled that to put a suspect under oath was a violation of the right to remain silent and the right against self-incrimination, so there were violations of articles 6-1 and 6-3. The Court found the other allegations of violation  of the Convention to be inadmissible. The applicant was represented by Me Patrice Spinosi who didn’t return our emails for comment.

The Court also reminded that the right to meet his lawyer prior to any police interrogation, and then to be assisted by his lawyer during  these interrogations were both guaranteed by article 6 of the Convention.

Under article 626-1 of the code of penal procedure, the applicant can now request from a special commission, a new trial to redress the violation of article 6 found by the Court.


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