ECtHR / Applications nos. 50541/08, 50571/08, 50573/08 and 40351/09 Ibrahim and Others v. The United Kingdom

Key facts of the case


  1. The applicants were born in 1978 (Mr Ibrahim), 1981 (Mr Mohammed and Mr Omar) and 1982 (Mr Abdurahman). The first three applicants are in detention. The fourth applicant lives in London.

A. Introduction

  1. On 7 July 2005 four suicide bombs exploded on three underground trains and a bus in central London, killing fifty-two people and injuring hundreds more.
  2. Two weeks later, on 21 July 2005, the first three applicants and a fourth man, Mr Hussain Osman, detonated four bombs on three underground trains and a bus in central London. On 23 July 2005 a fifth bomb was discovered abandoned and undetonated in a London park. Mr Manfo Asiedu was later identified as the fifth conspirator.
  3. Although the four bombs were detonated, in each case the main charge, liquid hydrogen peroxide, failed to explode. Subsequent testing revealed that this was most likely the result of an inadequate concentration of the hydrogen peroxide necessary for it to explode given the amount of TATP (acetone peroxide, a primary explosive) used as a detonator. The evidence showed that had the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide been higher or the TATP stronger, the bombs would have been viable.
  4. The first three applicants and Mr Osman all fled the scenes of their attempted explosions. Images of the four men were, however, captured by closed-circuit television (“CCTV”) cameras. A nationwide police manhunt began and photographs and the CCTV images of the men were broadcast on national television and published in national newspapers. On 22 July 2005 a young man was shot and killed on the London underground by police after being mistaken for Mr Osman (see Armani Da Silva v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 5878/08, 30 March 2016). In the days that followed, the four men were arrested, the first three applicants in England between 27 and 29 July and Mr Osman in Rome, Italy, on 30 July. They were tried and convicted for conspiracy to murder.
  5. The fourth applicant gave Mr Osman shelter at his home in London during the period when Mr Osman was on the run from the police and before he fled to Rome. The police interviewed the fourth applicant in England on 27 and 28 July 2005 and arrested him on the latter date. In separate proceedings, he was tried and convicted of assisting Mr Osman and failing to disclose information after the event.
  6. The details of the applicants’ arrests and initial police questioning are set out more fully below.


Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:


  1. Holds, by fifteen votes to two, that there has been no violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) of the Convention in respect of the first three applicants;
  2. Holds, by eleven votes to six, that there has been a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) of the Convention in respect of the fourth applicant;
  3. Holds, by sixteen votes to one,
  • that the respondent State is to pay the fourth applicant, within three months, the sum of EUR 16,000 (sixteen thousand euros), inclusive of any tax that may be chargeable to him, in respect of costs and expenses, to be converted into pounds sterling at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;
  • that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amount at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
  1. Dismisses, by thirteen votes to four, the remainder of the fourth applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 
  1. On 22 May 2012 the European Union adopted Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information in criminal proceedings. All EU Member States except Denmark participate in the Directive. The Directive is founded upon the rights laid down in the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular Articles 6, 47 and 48 thereof, by building upon Articles 5 and 6 of the Convention as interpreted by this Court. In its preamble, the Directive explains that the right to information about procedural rights “which is inferred from the case-law” of this Court, should be explicitly established by the Directive.
  2. Article 1 of the Directive clarifies that the right to information has two aspects: information on procedural rights and information on the accusation. Pursuant to Article 2, the Directive applies from the time a person is made aware by the competent authorities that he is suspected or accused of having committed a criminal offence. Such a person must be provided promptly with information concerning at least the five procedural rights listed in Article 3(1) of the Directive, namely: the right of access to a lawyer; the right to free legal advice; the right to be informed of the accusation; the right to interpretation and translation; and the right to remain silent. Article 8(2) provides that suspects must have the right under national law to challenge the failure to provide the relevant information. The Directive does not address how evidence obtained without prior information on procedural rights should be treated in any subsequent criminal proceedings.
  1. On 22 October 2013 the European Union adopted Directive 2013/48/EU covering the right of access to a lawyer, the right to have third parties informed of detention and the right to communicate with third parties and with consular authorities. The United Kingdom (along with Ireland and Denmark) chose not to participate in the Directive and in consequence it is not applicable in those States. The Directive lays down minimum rules concerning the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in proceedings for the execution of a European arrest warrant. In doing so, it promotes the application of the Charter, in particular Articles 4, 6, 7, 47 and 48 thereof, by building upon Articles 3, 5, 6 and 8 of the Convention, as interpreted by this Court. In its Recital 21, it explains, by reference to case-law of this Court, that where a person other than a suspect or accused person, such as a witness, becomes a suspect or accused person, that person should be protected against self-incrimination and has the right to remain silent. In such cases, questioning by law enforcement bodies should be suspended immediately and may only be continued if the person concerned has been made aware that he is a suspect or accused person and is able to fully exercise the rights provided for in the Directive.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language):