Jėčius v. Lithuania  | 2000

Legal reforms after innocent hotel director was jailed for 14 months without proper evidence

The Jėčius case was very important from the legal point of view and revealed a serious problem as regards the legality of the preventative detention, as well as a denied access to a court and the right to defence.

Danutė Jočienė, Judge of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania, former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, writing in "The Impact of the ECHR on Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe"


Juozas Jėčius was a hotel director. He was detained for over 14 months whilst awaiting trial for murder. He complained that there was no evidence connecting him to the crime. Nevertheless, the authorities refused to release him. When his case eventually came to trial, Mr Jėčius was acquitted.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that there had never been any proper evidence linking Mr Jėčius to the crime. Furthermore, certain periods of his detention had never been ordered by any Lithuanian court. In these circumstances, the authorities had violated Mr Jėčius’s right to liberty.


Following the judgment, in 2002 the parliament adopted a new code on criminal procedure partly to improve compliance with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

The law changed the rules on pre-trial detention, to help prevent this situation from happening again. It listed circumstances when pre-trial detention could be justified, set rules about the time limits of such detention and established a procedure where a detainee could challenge it in court.