The applicant was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder, armed robbery and arson following a trial where his statement to the police confessing to the offences were used against him despite his claims that he was denied representation by a lawyer of his choice when he made the statement to the police. While in police custody, the applicant was provided with a legal aid lawyer who counseled him prior to police questioning and was present with the applicant during the questioning. The applicant’s parents had hired a private lawyer to represent him during police questioning. That lawyer attempted to visit the applicant at the police station two times before the applicant had made a statement to the police. The police refused to let the lawyer meet with the applicant both times and the police never informed the applicant that the private lawyer was there to represent him. The applicant made a statement to police that was used against him at his trial where he was convicted. Prior to trial and at his trial, the applicant argued that he was denied his right to counsel of his choice during police questioning, but the trial court had denied his claim.
Violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c)
The Grand Chamber found the applicant’s right to a fair trial was violated because he was denied his right to a lawyer of his choosing during his questioning by the police where he made a statement to the police that was used to convict him at trial. In reaching its conclusion, the Grand Chamber applied a four-part test: (i) was the applicant represented by a lawyer selected on the basis of his own informed choice; (ii) were there relevant and sufficient reasons in the interests of justice to restrict the applicant’s access to his preferred lawyer; (iii) whether the applicant waived his right to be represented by a lawyer of his own choosing; and (iv) whether the fairness of the proceedings as a whole was prejudiced. The Grand Chamber found that the applicant’s choice of the legal aid lawyer to represent him during police questioning was not an informed choice because the police did not tell him that the private lawyer hired by his parents was at the police station to represent him during the questioning. It further found that there were not sufficient reasons to deny the applicant access to the private lawyer hired by his family and that the applicant did not waive his right to a lawyer of his own choosing since he was never informed that the private lawyer was at the police station to represent him, prior to his questioning by police. The Grand Chamber also found the fairness of the proceedings as a whole were prejudiced because, in absence of a lawyer of his choosing due to the police’s conduct, the applicant made a confession that was used against him at trial, resulting in his conviction. As a result, the Grand Chamber found a violation of Article 6 (Right to a Fair Trial) of the European Convention of Human Rights.
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