Sekanina v Austria: ECHR 25 Aug 1993

The applicant was detained on remand for about a year on suspicion of murdering his wife. He was acquitted by a jury. He applied for compensation for costs incurred in his defence and pecuniary damage sustained during his detention under the relevant Austrian legislation. On the ground that suspicion remained concerning the applicant’s involvement in his wife’s death the Austrian authorities rejected the claim.
Held: The court found a violation of article 6(2): ‘The voicing of suspicions regarding an accused’s innocence is conceivable as long as the conclusion of criminal proceedings has not resulted in a decision on the merits of the accusation. However, it is no longer admissible to rely on such suspicions once an acquittal has become final’ and ‘No authority may treat a person as guilty of a criminal offence unless he has been convicted by the competent court and in the case of an acquittal the authorities may not continue to rely on the charges which have been raised before that court but which have been proved to be unfounded. This rule also applies to courts which have to deal with non-criminal consequences of behaviour which has been subject to criminal proceedings. They must be bound by the criminal court’s finding according to which there is no criminal responsibility for the acts in question although this naturally does not prevent them to establish, eg a civil responsibility arising out of the same facts.’

13126/87, (1993) 17 EHRR 221, [1993] ECHR 37, (1993) 17 EHRR 221
Worldlii, Bailii
European Convention on Human Rights 6(2)
Human Rights
Cited by:
CitedMullen, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 29-Apr-2004
The claimant had been imprisoned, but his conviction was later overturned. He had been a victim of a gross abuse of executive power. The British authorities had acted in breach of international law and had been guilty of ‘a blatant and extremely . .
CitedAdams, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 11-May-2011
The three claimants had each been convicted of murders and served time. Their convictions had been reversed eventually, and they now appealed against the refusal of compensation for imprisonment, saying that there had been a miscarriage of justice. . .
AppliedRushiti v Austria ECHR 21-Mar-2000
The right of every person under the Convention to be presumed innocent, includes the general rule that no suspicion regarding an accused’s innocence may be voiced after his acquittal: ‘In any case, the Court is not convinced by the Government’s . .
CitedGale and Another v Serious Organised Crime Agency SC 26-Oct-2011
Civil recovery orders had been made against the applicant. He had been accused and acquitted of drug trafficking allegations in Europe, but the judge had been persuaded that he had no proper explanation for the accumulation of his wealth, and had . .
CitedHallam, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Justice SC 30-Jan-2019
These appeals concern the statutory provisions governing the eligibility for compensation of persons convicted of a criminal offence where their conviction is subsequently quashed (or they are pardoned) because of the impact of fresh evidence. It . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Criminal Practice

Updated: 01 January 2022; Ref: scu.165278