Legal aid & Defence

You always have the right to self-paid legal aid. Sometimes legal aid will be provided and paid for by the State. You also have the right to meetings and confidential communication with your attorney at law.
Case summary

Istratii v. Moldova


European Court of Human Rights
27 March 2007

Facts
The applicants, Mr Istratii, Mr Burcovschi and Mr Luţcan, were arrested and detained on remand for fraud. While in prison the communication between them and their lawyers took place in a room where the lawyers and the detainees were separated with a glass window. It was not possible to exchange anything, including documents between parties. As well, they had to shout to hear each other, thus the detainees and their lawyers were able to hear other similar conversations in the other rooms.  

Complaint
The applicants complained about the interference by the remand centre authorities with their right to communicate in confidence with their lawyers.

Court’s ruling
The Court found that the glass partition was a general measure affecting everyone in the prison, regardless of their personal circumstances. Nothing in the files of the applicants confirmed the existence of a security risk. In exceptional circumstances where supervision of lawyer-client meetings would have been justified, visual supervision of those meetings would have been sufficient.

The Court concluded that the impossibility for the applicants to discuss their defence with their lawyers without being separated by a glass partition was in violation of Article 5(4) of the Convention.

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