EGMR: Forthcoming Grand Chamber hearing on 17 January 2018 – S., V. and A. v. Denmark (application nos. 35553/12, 36678/12, and 36711/12) [Präventivgewahrsam für Hooligans]

The applicants are three Danish nationals who were born in 1989, 1982, and 1982 respectively. On 10 October 2009, the applicants were in Copenhagen to watch a football match between Denmark and Sweden. The Danish police were aware that hooligan groups from each country were travelling to the city and planning to fight each other. Therefore, plans were made to charge or detain the instigators of fights in order to prevent clashes.

During the afternoon, the first big fight started between Danish and Swedish spectators, which resulted in five or six people being arrested, including two of the three applicants, Mr V. and Mr A. Subsequently, other spectators were arrested elsewhere, including the remaining applicant, Mr S. The applicants were each detained for approximately eight hours. However, they were not charged with any criminal offence. In total 138 spectators were arrested, of whom half were charged with various criminal offences.

The applicants brought compensation proceedings before the Danish courts, alleging that their detention had been unlawful because it had been preventive and had exceeded six hours, which was the time-limit provided for under the relevant domestic law for detention in order to avert a danger or disturbance of public order. Their request was refused by the City Court in Aarhus in November 2010, which held that the overrunning of the time-limit had been justified in the circumstances (given the extent, duration and organised nature of the disturbances). In any case, the wording of the relevant domestic law set out that detention should not exceed six hours, but only to the extent that this was possible. That decision was subsequently upheld on appeal by the High Court and leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was ultimately refused in December 2011.

The applications were lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 8 June 2012.

The applicants complain that their detention was unlawful as it exceeded the time-limit prescribed by domestic law, and notably that it was not justified under Article 5 §§ 1 b) or c) (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Notice of the application was given to the Denmark Government, together with a question from the Court, on 7 January 2014.

On 11 July 2017 the Chamber to which the case had been allocated relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber.

Pressemitteilung des EGMR Nr. 399 v. 21.12.2017