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Application no. 14172/03
by Veikko FLEMMING
against Finland

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 14 November 2006 as a Chamber composed of:

Sir Nicolas Bratza, President,
Mr J. Casadevall,
Mr M. Pellonpää,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Mr L. Garlicki,
Ms L. Mijović,
Mr J. Šikuta, judges,
and Mr T.L. Early, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 23 April 2003,

Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:


The applicant, Mr Veikko Flemming, is a Finnish national who was born in 1947 and lives in Salo. He is represented before the Court by Ms P. Urmas.

The circumstances of the case

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant and as they appear from the documents, may be summarised as follows.

The applicant was employed by a bank. He was working in the years 1990-91 on the bank’s new campaign to grant loans and to invest in property abroad. On 23 June 1992 suspected offences in respect of credit decisions made without adequate guarantee arrangements, which had led to the bank’s winding-up at the beginning of the 1990s, were reported to the police. The criminal investigation was begun by the police on 7 July 1992. The pre-trial investigations lasted from 7 July 1992 to 9 December 1994 and from 9 April 1996 ending on 9 May 1996. The applicant claims to have been questioned by the police on 17 July 1992, but it is not known in what capacity. On 9 February 1993 he was questioned as a suspect in connection with serious fraud offences.

The hearing of the case, which involved about 30 defendants, began in the Salo District Court (käräjäoikeus, tingsrätten) on 7 March 1995. The proceedings, which included several adjournments, lasted approximately five years in total. The case was heard over a total of 68 or 69 days. The judgment was rendered on 24 March 2000 and it ran to almost 900 pages. The applicant was convicted of misuse of a position of trust and sentenced to a suspended term of four months’ imprisonment and a supplementary fine. All charges relating to serious fraud, etc. were dismissed. The District Court decided to examine the complainant’s, i.e. the bank’s successor, claims for damages in separate civil proceedings. These proceedings are still pending before the national courts.

On 4 March 2002 the Turku Court of Appeal (hovioikeus, hovrätten), having held an oral hearing during the period 20 August to 29 November 2001, gave judgment. The applicant was acquitted of all charges.

On 30 October 2002 the Supreme Court (korkein oikeus, högsta domstolen) refused, among others, the complainant leave to appeal.


The applicant complains that the total length of the proceedings in his case had been incompatible with the “reasonable time” requirement. He also complains that the proceedings were marked by bias because the public prosecutor and the District Court Judge had a negative view of him and that the Judge had worked too closely with the prosecutor and the complainant. Moreover, he complains that the contents of the charges had been too vague and that the surrounding publicity had rendered the trial unfair, violated the presumption of innocence and damaged his private life. He relies on Article 6 §§ 1-2 and 3(a) and Article 13 of the Convention.


A. The complaint concerning the length of the criminal proceedings

The applicant complained about the length of the proceedings. Article 6 § 1 of the Convention reads in so far as relevant:

“In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a ... hearing within a reasonable time by [a] ... tribunal...”

Article 13 of the Convention reads:

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

The Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.

B. The remainder of the application

The applicant complains that the proceedings had been flawed in various respects. Article 6 reads in relevant part.

“1. In the determination of ... any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] tribunal ...

2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;


Under Article 34 of the Convention the Court may receive applications from any person, non-governmental organisation or group of individuals claiming to be “the victim of a violation” by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention or the Protocols thereto. Pursuant to the Court’s case-law an acquitted defendant cannot however claim to be a victim of violations of the procedural guarantees of Article 6 which, according to him, took place in the course of the criminal proceedings against him. In such cases the alleged violation of Article 6 is rectified by the acquittal (see, for example, V.Q. v. Italy (dec.), no. 44994/98, 14 March 2002).

The Court notes that the present applicant was acquitted of all charges. In these circumstances he cannot claim to be a victim of a violation of his right to a fair trial.

It follows that this complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaints concerning the length of the proceedings and the lack of an effective remedy in that connection;

Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.

T.L. Early Nicolas BRATZA
Registrar President