ECtHR finds criminal prosecution carried out by courts in two different jurisdictions not in violation of double jeopardy

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that a criminal prosecution carried out by courts in two different jurisdictions did not violate the right not to be tried twice under Article 4 of Protocol 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Mr Krombach was the stepfather of Kalinka Bamberski whom he was suspected of raping and murdering in 1982 in Germany. Ms Bamerski’s biological father, Andre Bamberski, lodged a complaint in both Germany and France against Mr Krombach. German authorities carried out numerous investigations and concluded that the cause of death could not be established due to a lack of evidence and proceedings were discontinued.

However, criminal proceedings began in the Paris Assize Court in France as Ms Bamberski was a French citizen. In 1995, Mr Krombach was convicted, in absentia, of assault resulting in unintentional death and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. In 2001, the ECtHR found that this conviction was in violation of the right to a fair trial and the right to appeal in criminal matter under Article 6 and Article 2 of Protocol 7 respectively under the ECHR, and the verdict was quashed.

In 2009, Mr Bamberski had Mr Krombach abducted from Germany and brought to France where he was arrested and held in pre-trial detention. In 2011, the Paris Assize Court again sentenced him to 15 years in prison for assault resulting in accidental death. This judgement was appealed to the Court of Cassation by Mr Krombach but it was upheld.

Mr Krombach then appealed to the ECtHR complaining of a violation of his right not to be tried or punished twice for the same crime as proscribed by Article 4 of Protocol 7 of the ECHR. The Court held that this provision only referred to courts in the same State. It did not prevent a person from being tried or punished by the courts in one State, for an offence of which they had been acquitted or convicted by the courts in another State.

The ECtHR held that as Mr Krombach prosecution had been carried out by courts in two different states, in this case France and Germany, Article 4 of Protocol 7 did not apply and his right to not be tried twice was not violated. His complaint was deemed to be incompatible with the provisions of the Convention and was therefore deemed inadmissible.

Click here for the judgement in Krombach v France.




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