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Unfair trial leads to fairer criminal procedures

Laska and Lika v. Albania  | 2010

Unfair trial leads to fairer criminal procedures

The proceedings in question did not satisfy the requirements of a fair trial.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 20th April 2010

Background

A robbery was carried out by three people wearing blue and white balaclavas. Vladimir Laska and Artur Lika were arrested by police, but protested their innocence. The police put Mr Laska and Mr Lika in a line-up for witnesses, but made them wear blue and white balaclavas – the colour worn by the criminals. Other people in the line-up wore black balaclavas.

Witnesses identified Mr Laska and Mr Lika as the robbers. This “identification” was then used to convict them in court.  

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court ruled that the identification line-up had involved blatant irregularities. The conviction of Mr Laska and Mr Lika had been based on fundamentally flawed evidence, which had violated their right to a fair trial.

Follow-up

The Code of Criminal Procedure was changed to require the authorities to go through proper procedures when identifying suspects and avoid false accusations.  

Mr Laska and Mr Lika had a retrial. They were both cleared of all charges.