European Court of Human Rights Decision – Inadmissible undercover police actions

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Bribery case – Inadmissible undercover police actions

In a case of the two Russians nationals, who have been accused of bribery and abetting bribery, the Court unanimously declared that there has been a definite violation of the article 6§1 of the Convention, concerning fair hearing. The Court has acknowledged that the subsequent use of sources obtained by undercover agents is acceptable only if a clear and foreseeable procedure exists. The authorities must be able to demonstrate that they had good reason for mounting such an operation and in this case this demonstration was out of reach. In the performance of these operational search activities there are boundaries and so the lines between an undercover agent and incitement to commit a crime were crossed. The authorities use of unverified information from undisclosed sources cannot justify undercover actions. This can be considered entrapment or inciting and since neither supervision nor additional preliminary investigative steps were taken the Court declared that the complaints concerning the applicants’ conviction for criminal offences were incited by the police admissible and that the criminal proceedings against both applicants were incompatible with the notion of a fair trial.