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European Court of Human Rights: Italy condemned for the violation of the principle of non-retroactivity of criminal law

With the judgment issued on 14 April 2015 in the case Contrada v. Italy n. 3 (application no. 66655/2013), the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) condemned Italy for the violation of the principle of non-retroactivity of criminal law (Article 7 of ECHR).

The applicant, former policeman and deputy director of the Italian intelligence service, was found guilty for aiding and abetting a mafia-type organisation. Upholding the applicant's claim, the Court of Strasbourg found that there have been the violation of Article 7 ECHR (principle of non-retroactivity of criminal law) on account of the fact that the offence Mr Contrada was found guilt of was the result of a development in the national case-law subsequent to the time the facts he was accused of had been committed.

It is the third time that the ECtHR deals with a case connected to Mr. Contrada. The previous two cases concerned the right to liberty and security (application no. 27143/95), and the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment (application no. 7509/08); as for the latter, on 11 February 2014 the Court condemned Italy for violating Article 3 ECHR (substantive limb). 

The judgment, which is not final, may be referred to the Grand Chamber at the request of any party within a period of three months from the date of its issuance.

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