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15.06.2022 | The Court of Cassation made a case law decision based on the appeal of the Prosecutor's Office

The RA Court of Cassation made another important and guiding decision in the result of the investigation of the appeal of the RA Prosecutor's Office. It will be essential for the calculation of the statute of limitations for prosecution of crimes against the sexual immunity and sexual freedom of minors.

 

In the criminal case initiated on June 24, 2015 V. S. was charged under Article 132.2, Part 1 (child trafficking), Article 133, Part 2, Points 3 and 4 (unlawful deprivation of liberty of a minor), Article 142, Part 2, Points 3 and 4, Article 142, Part 2, Points 2 and 4 of the RA Criminal Code (regular lecherous acts performed by the same person against a minor).

 

The preliminary investigation proved that the latter forced the woman’s minor son to be engaged in beggary in Armavir town. He also performed lecherous acts toward the woman’s daughter under 14 from August 2013 to December 2014 then continued after her 14 years - until May, 2015. In addition, arguing with the girl's older sister, who was a minor at that time, in order to punish the latter, V. S. illegally deprived her of her freedom by keeping her in one of the houses of Armavir town for a night.

 

During the judicial examination, First Instance Court of General Jurisdiction of Armavir Region granted the petition of defense by the decision of July 16, 2020 and terminated the criminal prosecution under Article 133, Part 2, Points 3 and 4, Article 142, Part 2, Points 3 and 4, Article 142, Part 2, Points 2 and 4 of the RA Criminal Code on the basis of the expiry of the statute of limitations for criminal liability (5 years of statute of limitations is provided for crimes of medium severity).

 

The Court of Appeals of the Republic of Armenia, examining the complaint submitted by the prosecutor's office against the above-mentioned act, rejected it, leaving the decision of the Court of First Instance in legal force. The Court of Appeals found that the starting point for calculating the statute of limitations is the moment of initiation of the criminal case (June 24, 2015) and the involvement of the victim. Virtually in this way, the RA Court of Appeals equated the reasonable terms for the case investigation with the statute of limitations.

 

RA Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan filed a cassation appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeals on May 14, 2021. The Prosecutor General found that by terminating the criminal prosecution on that basis, the lower courts' judgments undermine the very essence of justice, are not legal and justified and are subject to cancelation. The justification is that the calculation of the statute of limitations for crimes prosecuted under Article 142, Part 2 of the RA Criminal Code, according to the 2013 the amendments made to the RA Criminal Code starts from the day the victim becomes an adult, in this case, from December 29 2018 and expires only on the same day in 2023.

 

In the result of the investigation, the RA Court of Cassation considered the appeal of the RA Prosecutor General grounded. The statute of limitations for the perpetrator begins to run from the moment the victim becomes 18, instead of considering the crime completed, as in other cases. According to the court, this is due to the fact that the minor victim, due to the age factor, due to certain circumstances, is more inclined to keep the fact of the crime committed against him secret for a long time. And the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution should be derived from this feature.

 

The RA Court of Cassation also showed a very important legal position that maintaining a reasonable time for the investigation of a case is one of the key components of a human's right to fair trial, which is aimed at ensuring the investigation of the case in the shortest possible time and making a final judicial act, regardless of the statute of limitations or the strict order of calculation. And if longer statutes of limitations are set for some crimes, or a stricter procedure for calculating them, it does not mean that the examination of those cases can last long.

 

Based on these findings, the RA Court of Cassation satisfied partially the appeal of the Prosecutor General of the RA according to Article 142, Part 2, Points 3 and 4, Article 142, Part 2, Points 2 and 4 of the RA Criminal Code, canceled and amended the decisions of the lower courts and rejected the motion of the defender concerning the termination of the criminal prosecution against the person on the basis of the expiration of the statute of limitations.

 

In the result, the court will examine the case with the full scope of the charge.