European Court of Human Rights - case of Sutter v. Switzerland (1984) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Sutter v. Switzerland (1984) (excerpts)

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30.   Whilst Mr. Sutter’s case had been heard in public by the Divisional Court, the proceedings before the Military Court of Cassation were conducted in writing, as was then and is still provided by the Swiss federal legislation. The latter Court received only a memorial filed by the applicant, since the grand juge, the Military Prosecutor and the Chief Military Prosecutor had confined themselves, without giving reasons, to submitting that the appeal should be dismissed. The Court of Cassation did not rule on the merits of the case, as regards either the question of guilt or the sanction imposed by the Divisional Court. It dismissed Mr. Sutter’s appeal in a judgment that was devoted solely to the interpretation of the legal provisions concerned. There is therefore nothing to suggest that his trial before the Military Court of Cassation was less fair than his trial before the Divisional Court, and it is not in dispute that the latter trial fulfilled the requirements of Article 6 (art. 6). In the particular circumstances of the case, oral argument during a public hearing before the Court of Cassation would not have provided any further guarantee of the fundamental principles underlying Article 6 (art. 6).

The Court accordingly finds that the absence of public hearings at the cassation stage did not infringe Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1).