Ontnemingsvordering bij vrijspraak

De ontnemingsvordering mag niet worden gebaseerd op feiten in de perioden waarvoor de verdachte is vrijgesproken (vgl. EHRM 1 maart 2007, nr. 30810/03 (Geerings tegen Nederland), ECLI:NL:HR:2008:BF0090, NJ 2008/497). Wordt dan wel gedaan, dan is er strijd met de onschuldpresumptie. In de zaak Geerings ging het om de ontneming ter zake van feiten waarvan de veroordeelde was vrijgesproken.

In par. 47 werd overwogen:
“If it is not found beyond a reasonable doubt that the person affected has actually committed the crime, and if it cannot be established as fact that any advantage, illegal or otherwise, was actually obtained, such a measure can only be based on a presumption of guilt. This can hardly be considered compatible with Article 6 § 2 (…)”

In het arrest overwoog het EHRM:

“43. However, whilst it is clear that Article 6 § 2 governs criminal proceedings in their entirety, and not solely the examination of the merits of the charge, the right to be presumed innocent under Article 6 § 2 arises only in connection with the particular offence with which a person has been “charged”. Once an accused has properly been proved guilty of that offence, Article 6 § 2 can have no application in relation to allegations made about the accused’s character and conduct as part of the sentencing process, unless such accusations are of such a nature and degree as to amount to the bringing of a new “charge” within the autonomous Convention meaning referred to in paragraph 32 above (see Phillips v. the United Kingdom, no. 41087/98, § 35, ECHR 2001-VII).

44. The Court has in a number of cases been prepared to treat confiscation proceedings following on from a conviction as part of the sentencing process and therefore as beyond the scope of Article 6 § 2 (see, in particular, Phillips, cited above, § 34, and Van Offeren v. the Netherlands (dec.), no. 19581/04, 5 July 2005). The features which these cases had in common are that the applicant was convicted of drugs offences; that the applicant continued to be suspected of additional drugs offences; that the applicant demonstrably held assets whose provenance could not be established; that these assets were reasonably presumed to have been obtained through illegal activity; and that the applicant had failed to provide a satisfactory alternative explanation.

45. The present case has additional features which distinguish it from Phillips and Van Offeren.

46. Firstly, the Court of Appeal found that the applicant had obtained unlawful benefit from the crimes in question although in the present case he was never shown to be in possession of any assets for whose provenance he could not give an adequate explanation. The Court of Appeal reached this finding by accepting a conjectural extrapolation based on a mixture of fact and estimate contained in a police report.

47. The Court considers that “confiscation” following on from a conviction – or, to use the same expression as the Netherlands Criminal Code, “deprivation of illegally obtained advantage” – is a measure (maatregel) inappropriate to assets which are not known to have been in the possession of the person affected, the more so if the measure concerned relates to a criminal act of which the person affected has not actually been found guilty. If it is not found beyond a reasonable doubt that the person affected has actually committed the crime, and if it cannot be established as fact that any advantage, illegal or otherwise, was actually obtained, such a measure can only be based on a presumption of guilt. This can hardly be considered compatible with Article 6 § 2 (compare, mutatis mutandis, Salabiaku v. France, judgment of 7 October 1988, Series A no. 141-A, pp. 15-16, § 28).

48. Secondly, unlike in the Phillips and Van Offeren cases, the impugned order related to the very crimes of which the applicant had in fact been acquitted.

49. In the Asan Rushiti judgment (cited above, § 31), the Court emphasised that Article 6 § 2 embodies a general rule that, following a final acquittal, even the voicing of suspicions regarding an accused’s innocence is no longer admissible.

50. The Court of Appeal’s finding, however, goes further than the voicing of mere suspicions. It amounts to a determination of the applicant’s guilt without the applicant having been “found guilty according to law” (compare Baars v. the Netherlands, no. 44320/98, § 31, 28 October 2003).

51. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 6 § 2.”

Uitgangspunt:
De uitspraak van het EHRM van 1 maart 2007, NJ 2007, 349 m.nt. M.J. Borgers (Geerings tegen Nederland) brengt mee dat de in art. 6 lid 2 EVRM verwoorde onschuldpresumptie zich verzet tegen het ontnemen van voordeel verkregen door feiten waarvan de verdachte is vrijgesproken.

Alleen wanneer voordeel wordt ontnomen dat is gegenereerd door een feit waarvan verdachte is vrijgesproken volgt de Hoge Raad de in de zaak Geerings uitgezette lijn (Zie HR 8 juli 2008, NJ 2008, 495 m.nt. Reijntjes; HR 9 september 2008, LJN BF0090; HR 2 december 2008, LJN BG1646; HR 9 december 2008, LJN BG6304; HR 9 december 2008, LJN BG6215.).

Dit geldt alleen voor berekeningen van het wederrechtelijk verkregen voordeel via de transactiemethode.

Criminele organisatie

Ontneming is niet uitgesloten bij een vrijspraak voor deelname aan een criminele organisatie (art. 140 Sr.). Voor dit feit is niet vereist dat de deelnemer zelf strafbaar betrokken is geweest bij de strafbare feiten (HR: LJN: BD6046).

Omgekeerd: HR LJN: BG4270

Technische vrijspraak

Ook bij een technische vrijspraak geldt als uitgangspunt dat aan de verdachte geen ontnemingsmaatregel kan worden opgelegd voor het feit waarvoor hij is vrijgesproken, vlg HR 9 september 2008, ECLI:NL:HR:2008:BF0090:
“De omstandigheid dat het hier kennelijk gaat om een zogenoemde technische vrijspraak, leidt niet tot een ander oordeel.”

Niet bij nietigheid dagvaarding

Deze regel geldt niet indien de dagvaarding nietig wordt verklaard, vlg HR 7 april 2009, ECLI:NL:HR:2009:BH3342:

“De opvatting dat een nietigverklaring van de dagvaarding ten aanzien van een bepaald feit kan worden gelijk gesteld aan een vrijspraak t.a.v. dat feit, zoals bedoeld in de uitspraak Geerings tegen Nederland (EHRM 1 maart 2007, NJ 2007, 349), vindt geen steun in het recht.”

 

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