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Estonia / Supreme Court, Criminal Law Chamber / 3-1-1-48-12

Raivo Paala v Estonia

Policy area:
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Criminal Law Chamber of the Supreme Court
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

By its judgement no. 3-1-1-81-11 of 4 November 2011, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court found Raivo Paala guilty of tax evasion and sentenced him to one year in prison. By the time the latter judgement was passed, the procedure had been running for 7 years which is not in compliance with the principle of reasonable duration of a criminal procedure set by European law. However, in 3-1-1-81-11, the Criminal Chamber did not consider the unreasonable length of the procedure a major influence on the outcome of the case, as the procedure was delayed mainly due to the actions of Raivo Paala and his criminal defence counsels. According to Raivo Paala, an investigation was conducted on the activity of his former defence council in the Court of Honour of The Estonian Bar Association and this – whether or not his case had expired due to unreasonably long duration of the procedure – depended entirely on the outcome of the investigation. Raivo Paala and his new defence attorney had separately filed applications with the Tartu County Court where they asked for the postponement of the enforcement of the sentence and referred to the judgement of the ECtHR of 22 November 2011 in the case of Andreyev vs Estonia. According to Raivo Paala and his defence counsel, the latter judgement supported their justifications, namely the ECtHR concluded that the unsatisfactory performance of professional duties of the defence counsels may violate the accused person's right to fair trial. Both applications were declined, following which Raivo Paala filed an appeal against the ruling of the county court with the Tartu Circuit Court. The circuit court did not satisfy the appeal and Raivo Paala's defence counsel filed appeals against the rulings of the courts of lower instances with the Supreme Court.