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European Human Rights Court Upholds French Guerrilla's Solitary Confinement; Awards 10,000 Euros
Awards 10,000 Euros
French political prisoner Ilich Ramirez Sanchez appealed a decision of the
Chamber of the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights that
being held in solitary confinement for eight years and two months did not
violate Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (the "Convention"). Sanchez, a Venezuelan national,
had previously been taken into custody on August 15, 1994, and subsequently
convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on December 25, 1997, for the
murder of two police officers and an acquaintance on June 27, 1975.
Sanchez's detention in 1994 was a result of suspicion of being connected to
a series of terrorist attacks in France as an Islamic revolutionary.
Ramirez is also known as Carlos and the jackal and his anti
imperialist actions include the kidnapping of the OPEC oil ministers in
Vienna in 1975, numerous bombings across Europe and similar activities. He
later converted to Islam.
Article 3 of the Convention provides "No one shall be subjected to torture
or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Sanchez claimed that
his solitary confinement violated Article 3 because he had experienced
sensory and social isolation. The Chamber had held that there was no such
violation of Sanchez's rights, but that there had been a violation of
Article 13 because he had no remedy to challenge his solitary confinement.
The Grand Chamber, on appeal, upheld the Chamber's ruling that there was no
Article 3 violation of Sanchez's rights, but further upheld the lower
court's ruling that his rights under Article l3 were violated, since he was
denied due process to challenge his solitary confinement. The Court awarded
Ramirez ten thousand Euros for legal costs and expenses, any tax
chargeable, plus interest "at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of
the European Central Bank upon default after three months, plus three
percentage points." Since January 6, 2006, Sanchez has been incarcerated
under "normal conditions" at Clairvaux Prison. See: Sanchez v. France. No.
59450/00 (Strasbourg July 4, 2006).
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