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HFHR opinion on pre-trial detention of Maciej D., Legia supporter

Maciej D. is indicted for purchasing, together with other persons, substantial amounts of marijuana. On this ground, he has been detained pending trial since May 2012. The HFHR has presented an opinion in this case in which it argues that this length of detention may violate Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Subsequent decisions to extend the pre-trial detention of Maciej D. were generally based on the same grounds”, says Piotr Kubaszewski, an HFHR lawyer. “According to the courts adjudicating in this case, the collected evidence indicated a high probability that the defendant had committed the acts he is charged with, which are punishable with imprisonment. In addition, there is a risk of an attempt to obstruct justice as a result of the fact that the defendant acted in collusion with other persons”, says Mr Kubaszewski.

However, in accordance with the well-established case law of the European Court of Human Rights neither the real probability of a severe prison sentence nor the commission of an offence as part of an organised crime group constitute per se (even taken together) “proper and sufficient grounds” for applying a custodial preventive measure for a long period of time.

“It is necessary to name concrete circumstances that would point to the possibility and probability that a specific person will attempt to obstruct the course of proceedings”, adds Mr Kubaszewski.

In this case courts used the same general statements to give reasons for the application of detention against a number of (even more than thirty) people. The gravity of charges and the role of Maciej D. in the case are disproportionate as compared to those of other co-defendants who are, for instance, charged with leading an organised crime group or commissioning a murder.

“The application of pre-trial detention for such a long time must be an absolute exception and result from extraordinary circumstances of the case. It should never, though, precede a possible penalty. For this reason, the application of this preventive measure against Maciej D. for over three years makes us concerned”, adds Mr Kubaszewski.

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