Advisory opinion

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The Court has decided to reject the request for an advisory opinion submitted by a panel of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Estonia.

The requesting court wanted to know whether a prosecutor’s decision to discontinue criminal proceedings could constitute an acquittal within the meaning of Article 4 § 1 of Protocol No. 7 (right not to be tried or punished twice) to the European Convention on Human Rights and, if so, whether such a decision could be considered final, given that, as happened in this case, it could be revoked by a higher-ranking prosecutor.

The ECHR ruled that the request did not raise a “question of principle” as required by Protocol No. 16, i.e., a novel and/or complex question, since the particular issue was the subject of well-established case-law. The discontinuance of criminal proceedings by a public prosecutor amounted to neither a conviction nor an acquittal, and Article 4 of Protocol No. 7 was therefore not applicable in such a situation.

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