The applicant, together with several other individuals, was collecting old metal in a street in Zagreb. Two unidentified men approached the group and attacked the applicant. They beat him all over his body with wooden planks while shouting racial abuse. Another two unidentified men, apparently members of the same group, kept watch. Shortly afterwards, the police arrived; they interviewed people at the scene and looked for the attackers. The applicant’s lawyer informed the State Attorney’s Office that the individuals who had attacked the applicant had apparently been engaged in numerous other attacks against Roma.
The applicant alleged, in particular, that the domestic authorities failed to undertake a serious and thorough investigation into the racist attack and that he suffered discrimination on the basis of his Roma origin.
The Court reiterated that States which had ratified the European Convention on Human Rights were required to take measures designed to ensure that individuals within their jurisdiction were not subjected to ill-treatment, including ill-treatment by private individuals. The authorities had to take all reasonable steps available to them to collect the relevant evidence and to do so promptly and with reasonable expedition. However, the Court observed that, since the event complained of had taken place, the police had not brought charges against anyone and the criminal proceedings had been pending in the pre-trial phase for almost seven years.
The Court observed that it was suspected that the applicant’s attackers belonged to a skinhead group, which was by its nature governed by extremist and racist ideology. It was therefore unacceptable that, being aware that the event at issue was most probably induced by ethnic hatred, the police allowed the investigation to last for more than seven years without undertaking any serious steps to identify or prosecute the perpetrators.
Consequently, the Court considered that there had been a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with the procedural aspect of Article 3.