Ekbatani v. Sweden

European Court of Human Rights
26 May 1998


The applicant, Mr. Ekbatani, was accused of insulting state official – a traffic assistant in charge of the test for a driver’s licence. After being heard in the hearing he was found guilty by the court of first instance. He appealed that judgment and asked the court of appeal to hold an open hearing. The court of appeals upheld the lower court’s judgment without holding a hearing. The judgement simply stated: "The Court of Appeal confirms the City Court’s judgment”. The Supreme Court did not grant the applicant leave to appeal. 


Mr. Ekbatani complained that the court of appeal had decided his case without a hearing in violation of his right to fair trial. 

Court's ruling

The Court emphasized that the manner of application of right to fair trial to proceedings before courts of appeal depend on the special features of the proceedings involved and account must be taken of the entirety of the proceedings in the domestic legal order and of the role of the appellate court therein. Therefore to determine whether a departure from the principle that there should be a public hearing at which the accused has the right to be present and argue his case, could be justified, the Court had to examine the special features of the domestic proceedings viewed as a whole.

The Court found that in Sweden the court of appeals considers both questions of fact and law and makes full assessment of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In the circumstances of the present case that question could not, as a matter of fair trial, have been properly determined without a direct assessment of the evidence given in person by the applicant - who claimed that he had not committed the act alleged to constitute the criminal offence.  Therefore there had been a violation of Mr. Ekbatani’s right to a fair trial.

Learn more

Last updated 17/01/2024