A case initiated with respect to a norm of the Criminal Law, which determined the concept of a public official
On 10 October 2019, the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated the case “On Compliance of Section 316 (1) of the Criminal Law, in the Wording that was in Force from 2 January 2004 to 31 March 2013, with the Second Sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia”.
The Contested Norm
Section 316 (1) of the Criminal Law, in the wording that was in force from 2 January 2204 to 31 March 2013: “Representatives of State authority, as well as every person who permanently or temporarily performs his or her duties in the State or local government service and who has the right to make decisions binding upon other persons, or who has the right to perform any functions regarding supervision, control, investigation, or punishment or to deal with the property or financial resources of the state or local government, shall be considered to be public officials.”
The Legal Norm of Higher Legal Force
The second sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia (hereinafter – the Satversme): “Everyone shall be presumed innocent until his or her guilt has been established in accordance with law.”
The case was initiated on the basis of an application submitted by Aigars Meļko and Gunārs Cvetkovs. It follows from the applications and the annexed documents that in the period from 1 August 2006 to 15 June 2010 A. Meļko was a member of the board of a stock company, the only shareholder of which was the Republic of Latvia. Whereas G. Cvetkovs was an employee of this stock company with the right to conclude agreements and to sign agreements in the scope determined by the employer. The applicants were made criminally liable and recognised as being guilty of committing a criminal offence envisaged in Section 320 (3) of the Criminal Law (in the wording of the law of 19 November 2009). Pursuant to the contested norm, both applicants were recognised as being the special subjects of the said criminal offence – public officials.
The applicants are of the opinion that the contested norm is not sufficiently clear, predictable and qualitative. Therefore they had not had the possibility to forecast that it could be applicable also to members of the board of a state stock company and persons who had the right to handle the property of the state stock company. Hence, it is alleged that the applicants’ fundamental rights, defined in the second sentence of Article 92 of the Satversme had been infringed upon.
The Legal Proceedings
The Constitutional Court has requested the institution, which issued the contested act, the Saeima, to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and the legal reasoning by 10 December 2019.
The term for preparing the case is 10 March 2020. The Court will decide on the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after it has been prepared.
Open in PDF: 2019-22-01_PR_par_ierosinasanu_ENG
Linked case: 2019-22-01