Vlad Filat’s case will reach the ECHR only after passing through all the court instances in Moldova: the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Even if it reaches the ECHR, the proceedings will take at least five years, experts say, and it will totally remove Vlad Filat from political and public life of the country. Lawyers discussed arguments to defend Filat, if his case goes to the ECHR. vipmagazin.md.jpg

Vitalie Nagacevschi, member of Human Rights Lawyers Association, who deals with cases that Moldovan citizens submit to the ECHR, said for Crime Moldova that Vlad Filat’s plea would be based on three pillars.

However, before reaching the European Court of Human Rights, Vlad Filat has to pass through all the national stages to appeal the verdict. In other words, Vlad Filat is obliged to denounce the infringements that, in his view, have been committed in relation to him. He has to allege the articles of the Convention on Human Rights in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court. If these courts refuse to correct the infringements, Vlad Filat will have a chance to win the case in the ECHR.

Vitalie Nagacevschi points out to some shortcomings, which refer primarily to the closed-door trial. "There is a problem, in accordance with the Convention on Human Rights, with the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial must take place in open court. In certain exceptional circumstances, based on a decision, thoroughly motivated by judges, the process can be fully or partly closed. I do not think that in Vlad Filat’s case it was necessary to hold the trial behind the closed doors. I admit that in some cases, some sessions were to be held behind closed doors, but most of the sessions had to be held in open court", Nagacevschi considers.

According to the lawyer, the Court of Appeal will have to investigate the validity of the decision to hold the trial behind closed doors. If the court finds the closed-door trial ungrounded, it will reveal this breach, and rehear the process in an open or partially open court, and will eventually be able to reduce Vlad Filat’s sentence as a remedy for the infringement of the right to have an open court trial.

Secondly, Vlad Filat's lawyers can allege the failure to question some of ​​defense witnesses. The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court are to determine the grounds for the rejection of witness’s evidence, requested by the defense. If the Court of Appeal considers that the refusal to question the witnesses was unreasonable, it will hear these witnesses and, in this case, an eventual breach will be corrected by the Court of Appeal.

The third issue that Vlad Filat raises is confiscation of his property. "What Vladimir Voronin did was not confiscation of property, when the building of Ipteh was seized. Vlad Filat alleges this case. In communist times, privatization was canceled, it was annulled bypassing the limitation period of three years. In this case, the seizure took place based on the criminal sentence. If he appeals to ECHR with regard to this seizure and the ECHR does not find any violation of criminal procedure, I do not see how Filat will be able to get back his confiscated property", Vitalie Nagacevschi said.

Eventually, the lawyer concluded, each charge to be brought before the ECHR, has to be examined in accordance with the procedure with all the documents presented. At present, it is impossible to predict whether Filat will win or lose at the ECHR, because everything depends on how this case will be managed by the national courts.

However, it will take the ECHR several years to take a decision. If the case gets to the ECHR, obviously it will be examined in ordinary terms. So far, there is no justification for Filat’s case to be examined out of turn.  There is a procedure to be followed at the ECHR. Usually, the examination of such cases takes five to seven years. "But even at the national level, we don’t know how long it will take. I refer to the Court of Appeal, and if the Supreme Court finds a mistake, it will return Filat’s case to be reheard. This hearing may take several years just at the national level, in addition to about five years at the ECHR, and it makes nine years, just the time when Filat will be released". If Vlad Filat is excluded from political life for nine years, he will be forgotten as a politician. "Even now, Vlad Filat no longer exists as a politician, as a participant in public life".    

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Nicholae Osmochescu, expert in Constitutional Law, former magistrate of the Constitutional Court, told for Crime Moldova that actually the ECHR might examine Filat’s case urgently. However, the lawyer says, it is very difficult to forecast Filat's chances at the ECHR because we don’t know the evidences presented by the prosecutors and examined by judges, given that the trial was closed.

However, the group of lawyers that defend Vlad Filat will appeal the decision of the first instance to the Court of Appeal, and then, if they do not agree with the judgment of the second instance, they will appeal to the Supreme Court. Only after the third instance, they will apply to the ECHR.

"This is the only possible procedure for the case to reach the ECHR. There, the problem of visibility appears and how the application will be examined. I think that the trial in Chisinau, held urgently, without a careful examination of testimonies of the accusation and defense, was inappropriate. Not all the witnesses were heard. Secondly, I was puzzled that no economic, financial and handing examinations were made. Somewhere, all these documents can have forged signatures," Osmochescu says.

In addition, notice the speed of the Moldovan justice in the case of Vlad Filat. The fact that the trial was not public means a breach of procedure. "Such a notorious case, when someone is accused of bribery of 200 million dollars, could not be examined without an expertise. I mean that the ECHR has grounds to examine the case as soon as possible. But I cannot say what the Court's decision will be. "   

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The Chairman of the Centre for Legal Resources Vladislav Gribincea spoke in an interview with Free Europe Radio about the possibility of reexamination by the ECHR of the former Prime Minister’s case, who was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment.

According to him, "if the ECHR only finds that the process was not transparent, but the overall decision is correct, then it will only rule payment of a compensation for moral damage." "This will not be grounds for re-starting the procedure, because if, in fact, the decision is correct, this procedural error does not invalidate the sentence. But it could be the other way, the European Court could reveal more serious offenses, including essential ones, then the consequences of the decision of the European Court would be quite different. In any case, I do not believe that the judgment of the European Court could come rather than in the next two to three years”, Gribincea said.    

He added that after the sentence was pronounced, his lawyer or Vlad Filat personally can appeal the case and the Court of Appeal will review it in full. "Subsequently, if there is anyone who disagrees with the decision of the Court of Appeal, it will be possible to appeal to the Supreme Court." "This process will practically take a year, a year and a half ", the Chairman of the Centre for Legal Resources said.

He also criticized the fact that the trial was held behind closed doors. "It is very difficult for me to understand why the process had to be closed. In such circumstances, the best solution for the judges was to hold a public trial, so that all could understand that justice was done in deeds, not just on paper. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hold such trials behind closed doors. This only fuels speculation that it was not justice but an execution," Gribincea concluded.

Politics, Vlad Filat, ECHR
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