Key facts of the case:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 14939/03) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national, Mr Sergey Aleksandrovich Zolotukhin (“the applicant”), on 22 April 2003.
2. The applicant was represented by Mr P. Leach and Mr K. Koroteyev, lawyers from the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented by Ms V. Milinchuk, former Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
3. The applicant complained under Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 that he had been prosecuted twice in connection with the same offence.
4. The application was allocated to the First Section of the Court (Rule 52 § 1 of the Rules of Court). Within that Section, the Chamber that would consider the case (Article 27 § 1 of the Convention) was constituted as provided in Rule 26 § 1.
5. On 8 September 2005 the application was declared partly admissible by a Chamber of that Section composed of Christos Rozakis, Peer Lorenzen, Snejana Botoucharova, Anatoli Kovler, Khanlar Hajiyev and Sverre Erik Jebens, judges, and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar.
6. On 7 June 2007 a Chamber of that Section composed of Christos Rozakis, Loukis Loucaides, Nina Vajić, Anatoli Kovler, Khanlar Hajiyev, Dean Spielmann and Sverre Erik Jebens, judges, and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar, concluded unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 and made an award in respect of non-pecuniary damage and legal costs.
7. On 5 September 2007 the Government requested, in accordance with Article 43 of the Convention and Rule 73, that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber. A panel of the Grand Chamber accepted the request on 12 November 2007.
8. The composition of the Grand Chamber was determined according to the provisions of Article 27 §§ 2 and 3 of the Convention and Rule 24.
9. The applicant and the Government each filed observations on the merits. In addition, third-party comments were received from the Human Rights Training Institute of the Paris Bar Association, which had been given leave by the President to intervene in the written procedure (Article 36 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 44 § 2).
10. A hearing took place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 26 March 2008 (Rule 59 § 3).
Outcome of the case:
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Dismisses the Government’s preliminary objection;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 7;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, the following amounts, to be converted into Russian roubles at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 1,500 (one thousand five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 9,000 (nine thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses, to be paid into the representatives’ bank account in the United Kingdom;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
79. An analysis of the international instruments incorporating the non bis in idem principle in one or another form reveals the variety of terms in which it is couched. Thus, Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 to the Convention, Article 14 § 7 of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 50 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union refer to the “[same] offence” (“[même] infraction”), the American Convention on Human Rights speaks of the “same cause” (“mêmes faits”), the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement prohibits prosecution for the “same acts” (“mêmes faits”), and the Statute of the International Criminal Court employs the term “[same] conduct” (“[mêmes] actes constitutifs”) . The difference between the terms “same acts” or “same cause” (“mêmes faits”) on the one hand and the term “[same] offence” (“[même] infraction”) on the other was held by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to be an important element in favour of adopting the approach based strictly on the identity of the material acts and rejecting the legal classification of such acts as irrelevant. In so finding, both tribunals emphasised that such an approach would favour the perpetrator, who would know that, once he had been found guilty and served his sentence or had been acquitted, he need not fear further prosecution for the same act (see paragraphs 37 and 40 above).