EGMR: Süveges v. Hungary (application no. 50255/12)

The applicant, Péter Süveges, is a Hungarian national who was born in 1972. A multiple recidivist, Mr Süveges essentially complained about the criminal proceedings against him on, among other offences, aggravated murder, armed robbery and illegal possession of firearms and explosives, as well as his related pre-trial detention and house arrest.

After more than 50 hearings before a number of different judges, Mr Süveges was found guilty of those offences in February 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment. In July 2015 this judgment was quashed and remitted to the first-instance court where the case is currently still pending.

In the context of those criminal proceedings and on the grounds of a risk of absconding and reoffending, the courts ordered Mr Süveges’ pre-trial detention which essentially covered three periods, starting on June 2005 when he was arrested and remanded in custody and still continuing. These periods of pre-trial detention were punctuated by periods when he served prison sentences in other, unrelated, criminal proceedings or was placed under house arrest (between January 2012 and November 2013). Most recently, in July 2015 he was placed in pre-trial detention again following the quashing of his conviction of February 2014.

During his house arrest, Mr Süveges made various requests for one-off leave, including visits to family, which were granted. Other requests for more regular visits to his mother and father, who were both in poor health, were refused. In December 2012, the High Court dismissed an application for leave for him to attend Mass on Sundays and this decision was upheld on appeal. From 7 to 18 January 2013, as the owner of the flat where Mr Süveges was staying could no longer provide for him, his house arrest continued, at his request, from a campsite that was unsuitable for residence during the winter. On 21 January 2013, the court re-ordered his house arrest at the flat of his acquaintance.

Relying in particular on Article 5 § 3 (entitlement to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial) and Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair within a reasonable time) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Süveges complained about the excessive length of both his pre-trial detention – more than six years – and criminal proceedings – more than ten years – against him. Furthermore, he alleged under Article 5 § 4 (right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court) that the proceedings concerning his motions for release had been unfair. Lastly, relying on Article 8 (right to respect for family life), and Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), Mr Süveges complained that contact with his family had been restricted and that he had been unable to attend mass while under house arrest.

  • Violation of Article 5 § 3
  • No violation of Article 5 § 4
  • Violation of Article 6 § 1
  • No violation of Article 8
  • No violation of Article 9
  • Just satisfaction: € 2,000 (non-pecuniary damage) and € 6,000 (costs and expenses)

Press release ECHR 2 (2016) 05/01/2016

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