Judging the Charter

The Charter in judicial practise with a special focus on the case of protection of refugees and asylum seekers

The application of the ne bis in idem principle in criminal proceedings – conviction in another Member State

Case Number: Supreme Corut Greece - AP 111/2014

Relevance of Decision

This is a rare decision addressing the application of the ne bis in idem principle in criminal proceedings in cases involving multiple Member States.

Facts of the case

The case concerns a petition to repeat proceedings on the basis of new facts. The applicant was finally convicted by judgement of the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court of Greece (Arios Pagos) on 9/3/2009 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the crimes of purchasing, transporting, importing, exporting, and selling narcotics. A few months after his conviction, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, rendering CFREU legally binding and enforceable in the areas of application of EU law. The applicant instituted the proceedings, claiming that the decision convicting him violated his ne bis in idem rights. He based his complaint on the fact that he has already been finally convicted for the same crimes by judgement of the Appellate Court of Amsterdam in 1993. The case was decided in camera.

Legal Questions

Do Courts have an obligation to repeat proceedings on account of Judgements pronounced in other Jurisdictions?

Court Findings

The Court found the application to be admissible. However, it terminated the proceedings on account of the applicant’s subsequent death. Interestingly, the prosecutor had proposed the dismissal of the application, since decisions by another Member State’s Courts are not a “fact” which may form the basis for an application to repeat proceedings.

Critical Assessment

It is noteworthy, in my opinion, that a decision issued in 2014 contains doubts as to whether the ne bis in idem principle is applicable in cases involving multiple Member States, or whether its violation constitutes a legitimate ground for lifting the negative effects of subsequent proceedings. (CECL Zoi Anna Kasapi)