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European Court says use of secret tapes, phone list was illegal

The European Court of Human Rights rebuked the Czech Republic for secretly taping conversations and tracking mobile-phone calls as part of a criminal investigation, ordering it to pay €1,018 ($1,340) to a convicted robber.

Vojtech Heglas had argued his right to respect for private life under European law had been violated. While the court in Strasbourg, France, agreed on the privacy issue, it rejected his claims that the evidence had infringed his right to a fair trial. Heglas, who was sentenced by the Prague City Court in 2000 to nine years in jail, said the key evidence in securing his conviction was a transcript of a secretly recorded conversation between him and the other defendant's girlfriend, and a list of telephone calls made between the two defendants' mobile phones showing they had called each other before and after the attack. „The disputed recording and the list of telephone calls, even though they were described by the municipal court as the most important or essential evidence, weren't the only two pieces of evidence,” the human rights court said. The case is 5935/02, Heglas v the Czech Republic. (Bloomberg)