You are on page 1of 4

CASE OF MIKOLAJOV v. SLOVAKIA (Application no.

4479/03)
JUDGMENT, STRASBOURG
18 January 2011

This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 2 of the Convention. It may be
subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Mikolajov v. Slovakia,The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section),
sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Nicolas Bratza, President, Ljiljana Mijovi, David Thr Bjrgvinsson, Ledi Bianku,
Mihai Poalelungi, judges, and Fato Arac, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 14 December 2010, Delivers the following judgment, which was
adopted on that date:
PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (no. 4479/03) against the Slovak Republic lodged with the
Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms (the Convention) by a Slovak national, Mrs Helena Mikolajov (the applicant), on
17 January 2003.
2. The applicant was represented by Mrs I. Rajtkov, a lawyer practising in Koice. The
Government of the Slovak Republic (the Government) were represented by Mrs A. Polkov and
Mrs M. Pirokov, their successive Agents.
3. The applicant complained that the conclusion in a police decision that she had committed a
criminal offence, despite the complaint against her having been dropped, breached her right to the
presumption of innocence under Article 6 2 of the Convention and her right to protection of her
reputation under Article 8.
4. On 27 March 2006 the President of the Fourth Section of the Court to which the case had been
allocated decided to give notice of the application to the Government. It was also decided to examine
the merits of the application at the same time as its admissibility (Article 29 1).
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicant was born in 1969 and lives in Koice.
6. On 30 June 2000 the applicant's husband filed a complaint with the police alleging that the
applicant had beaten and wounded him on 25 June 2000.
7. On 3 July 2000 the police department in Koice issued a decision by which it dropped the case
on the ground that the applicant's husband did not agree to criminal proceedings being brought against
1

her. The decision stated that although the police investigation had established that the applicant had
committed a criminal offence, criminal prosecution was barred as the victim, the applicant's husband,
had not given his consent as required under Article 163 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The applicant
was not notified of this decision, nor is there any evidence in the case file that she was questioned or
otherwise made aware of her husband's complaint.
8. On 28 January 2002 a health insurance company wrote to the applicant asking her to reimburse
the costs of her husband's medical treatment. According to the letter, the applicant's husband had been
treated in a hospital on 25 June 2000 as a result of injuries which the applicant had inflicted on him.
Reference was made, inter alia, to the decision issued by the police department in Koice on 3 July
2000.
9. In a letter dated 3 July 2002 the insurance company explained the position to the applicant in
reply to her request. A copy of the police decision of 3 July 2000 was enclosed with the letter which
was delivered to the applicant's lawyer on 15 July 2002. The relevant part of the decision of 3 July
2000 read as follows:
The investigation showed that [the applicant's] action met the constituent elements of the offence
of causing injury to health pursuant to Article 221(1) of the Criminal Code in that she had deliberately
inflicted an injury on another person.
10. On 16 July 2002 the applicant informed the competent police department in Koice that the
text of its decision violated her right to be presumed innocent. She requested an apology and that the
police inform the health insurance company of this breach. On 9 August 2002 the director of the police
department replied to the applicant, stating that the above decision had been given in accordance with
the relevant law.
11. In a letter of 17 July 2002 the applicant requested that the Koice II District Prosecutor's
Office quash the police decision of 3 July 2000. On 26 August 2002 the applicant was informed that
the decision was not contrary to constitutional principles. The letter stated, in particular, that the task
of the police had been to determine whether a justified reason existed to consider that a particular
person had committed the offence in issue. The relevant text of the contested decision had been drafted
and was to be read in that context.
12. On 12 September 2002 the applicant filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court. She
alleged, inter alia, that by issuing its decision of 3 July 2000, the police department in Koice had
violated her constitutional rights to be presumed innocent and to respect for her honour and reputation.
13. On 27 November 2002 the Constitutional Court rejected the complaint as having been filed
outside the statutory two month time-limit. The decision referred to section 53 (3) of the Constitutional
Court Act of 1993, which provided that the time-limit was to be counted from the day on which the
plaintiff learned or could have learned about the contested measure. In rejecting the applicant's
complaint as out of time, the Constitutional Court took 3 July 2000, the date on which the police
decision was issued, as the key date.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW AND PRACTICE
A. Constitution of the Slovak Republic
14. Article 50 2 of the Slovak Constitution provides that Every defendant against whom
criminal proceedings are pending shall be considered innocent until the court establishes his/her guilt
by a final judgment.
2

B. Criminal Procedure Code (Act No. 141/1961 Coll.)


15. The Criminal Procedure Code, as in force at the relevant time, provided as follows at Article 2
2: A defendant against whom criminal proceedings have been instituted must not be considered
guilty until the court establishes his/her guilt by a final judgment.
16. Article 163 (a) (1) required the victim's consent for a criminal prosecution to be pursued for a
listed number of offences, including the offence of causing bodily injury, in cases in which the
perpetrator was a relative of the victim.
17. Article 11 1 (h) provided that a criminal prosecution could not be initiated, and if already
initiated, could not be continued and had to be discontinued, in the event that consent as required
under Article 163 (a) (1) was not given or subsequently withdrawn.
C. Civil Code
18. The Civil Code in its relevant provisions reads as follows: Article 11 Every natural person
shall have the right to protection of his or her personal integrity, in particular his or her life and health,
civil and human dignity, privacy, reputation and expressions of a personal nature.
Article 13 1. Every natural person shall have the right in particular to request an order restraining
any unjustified interference with his or her personal integrity, an order cancelling out the effects of
such interference and an award of appropriate compensation.
2. If the satisfaction afforded under paragraph 1 of this Article is insufficient, in particular because
the injured party's dignity or social standing has been considerably diminished, the injured party shall
also be entitled to financial compensation for non-pecuniary damage.
3. When determining the amount of compensation payable under paragraph 2 of this Article,
the court shall take into account the seriousness of the harm suffered by the injured party and the
circumstances in which the violation of his or her rights occurred.
Article 16 A person who caused damage by infringement of the right to protection of personal
integrity, shall be liable for such damage under provisions of this law on liability for damage.
D. Civil Procedure Code
19. Article 134 of the Civil Procedure Code provides the following:
Letters issued by the courts of the Slovak Republic or by other state authorities within the limits
of their powers, as well as letters which were declared public upon special regulation, confirm that it is
an order or declaration of an authority which issued the letter, and unless the contrary is proved, also
the verity of what is to be approved or confirmed therein.
E. Constitutional Court Act 1993 20. Section 53 (3) of the Constitutional Court Act of 1993
provides that a complaint to the Constitutional Court can be filed within two months from the final
effect of a decision or from the date of a contested measure or notification of another interference with
a person's rights. In the case of measures or other interferences, the time-limit is to be counted from
the date on which the plaintiff learned or could have learned about the contested measure or other
interference complained of. Section 50 (2) provides that a copy of the legal decision, measure or any
evidence proving another kind of interference shall accompany a complaint.
3