Case Law: Case C-299/95. Friedrich Kremzow v. Republik Österreich, (Eur. Ct. J. May 29, 1997) (Not yet Reported)

3 Colum. J. Eur. L. 474 (1997)

Eva Brems. Fellow of the Foundation for Scientific Research-Flanders, Institute for Human Rights, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

European Convention on Human Rights; Jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice

1. Facts

After his retirement as a judge in the Austrian courts, Friedrich Kremzow worked as a consultant for various practicing lawyers in the Vienna area, including a Mr. “P.” On a December day in 1982, Kremzow presented himself before a court to confess to having killed Mr. P. Two years later, the Court of Assizes found him guilty of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment, to be served in an institution for mentally deranged criminals.

Stating on the pleas of nullity filed by Kremzow and his family and on appeals by the public prosecutor and the victim’s son, the Austrian Supreme Court (“Oberster Gerichtshof”) later increased the sentence to life imprisonment, given the gravity of the crime. It also annulled the order committing Kremzow to a mental institution, thereby requiring him to serve his sentence in an ordinary prison. Thus the prosecutor’s appeal was granted, after a hearing held in Kremzow’s absence. Kremzow had not requested to attend the proceedings, and his presence was not ordered by the court on its own motion, although both possibilities were provided for by law.