Woman’s 4-year detention without trial leads to freedom protections

Prencipe v. Monaco  | 2009

Woman’s 4-year detention without trial leads to freedom protections

Everyone arrested or detained … shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial.

Extract from Article 5(3) of the European Convention on Human Rights


Josette Prencipe was a bank employee in her mid-sixties. She was arrested and detained by the government for almost 4 years, without facing trial. She had been accused of making illegal bank transfers.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court ruled that the authorities in Monaco had failed to properly justify detaining Mrs Prencipe for such a long time before trial. The national courts had also failed to consider Mrs Prencipe’s guarantee that she would attend trial, without being locked up. This breached her right to liberty.


Before the court’s judgment, Mrs Prencipe was released “in order to comply with the requirements of the ECHR”. After the case was notified to the government, a series of reforms were passed aimed at protecting the right to liberty. These included a limit on the maximum time someone can be kept in detention without facing trial.

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