A bíróságnak abban foglalt állást, hogy kínzásnak, vagy embertelen, megalázó bánásmódnak tekinthető-e a tényleges életfogytiglani büntetés (Egyezmény 3. cikkébe való ütközés).
„242. For the third sentence, a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the Court considers that greater scrutiny is required. The vice of any mandatory sentence is that it deprives the defendant of any possibility to put any mitigating factors or special circumstances before the sentencing court (see, for instance, Reyes and de Boucherville at paragraphs 151 and 152 above). This is no truer than for a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a sentence which, in effect, condemns a defendant to spend the rest of his days in prison, irrespective of his level of culpability and irrespective of whether the sentencing court considers the sentence to be justified.
However, in the Court’s view, these considerations do not mean that a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is per se incompatible with the Convention, although the trend in Europe is clearly against such sentences (see, for example, the comparative study summarized at paragraph 138 above). Instead, these considerations mean that such a sentence is much more likely to be grossly disproportionate than any of the other types of life sentence, especially if it requires the sentencing court to disregard mitigating factors which are generally understood as indicating a significantly lower level of culpability on the part of the defendant, such as youth or severe mental health problems (see, for instance, Hussain v. the United Kingdom and Prem Singh v. the United Kingdom, judgments of 21 February 1996, Reports 1996-I at paragraphs 53 and 61 respectively and the Canadian case of Burns, at paragraph 93, quoted at paragraph 74 above).
The Court concludes therefore that, in the absence of any such gross disproportionality, an Article 3 issue will arise for a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in the same way as for a discretionary life sentence, that is when it can be shown: (i) that the applicant’s continued imprisonment can no longer be justified on any legitimate penological grounds; and (ii) that the sentence is irreducible de facto and de iure.
A bíróság kérelmezők vonatkozásában a következőképp döntött:
243. …It is necessary to consider whether such sentences would be grossly disproportionate. In this connection the Court observes that, while the offences with which these applicants are charged vary, all of them concern involvement in or support for terrorism. Given the seriousness of terrorism offences (particularly those carried out or inspired by Al-Qaeda) and the fact that the life sentences could only be imposed on these applicants after the trial judge considered all relevant aggravating and mitigating factors, the Court considers that discretionary life sentences would not be grossly disproportionate in their cases.
Third, as the Court has observed, in respect of a discretionary life sentence, an Article 3 issue will only arise when it can be shown: (i) that the applicant’s continued incarceration no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose; and (ii) the sentence is irreducible de facto and de iure. Given that none of these applicants has been convicted, still less has begun serving any sentences which might be imposed upon conviction (cf. Kafkaris and Léger, cited above, and Iorgov v. Bulgaria (no. 2), no. 36295/02, 2 September 2010), the Court considers that they have not shown that, upon extradition, their incarceration in the United States would not serve any legitimate penological purpose. Indeed, if they are convicted and given discretionary life sentences, it may well be that, as the Government have submitted, the point at which continued incarceration would no longer serve any purpose may never arise. It is still less certain that, if that point were ever reached, the United States’ authorities would refuse to avail themselves of the mechanisms which are available to reduce their sentences (see paragraph 130 above and Kafkaris, cited above, § 98).
Accordingly, the Court finds that these applicants have not demonstrated that there would be a real risk of treatment reaching the threshold of Article 3 as a result of their sentences if they were extradited to the United States. The Court therefore finds no violation of Article 3 in their cases.
244. Finally, the Court turns to the case of the fifth applicant. He faces two hundred and sixty-nine counts of murder and thus multiple mandatory sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Court does not find a mandatory life sentence would be grossly disproportionate for such offences, particularly when the fifth applicant has not adduced any evidence of exceptional circumstances which would indicate a significantly lower level of culpability on his part. Indeed, if he is convicted of these charges, it is difficult to conceive of any mitigating factors which would lead a court to impose a lesser sentence than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, even if it had the discretion to do so. Moreover, for the reasons it has given in respect of the first, third, fourth and sixth applicants, the Court considers that he has not shown that incarceration in the United States would not serve any legitimate penological purpose. Therefore, he too has failed to demonstrate that there would be a real risk of treatment reaching the threshold of Article 3 as a result of his sentence if he were extradited to the United States. Accordingly, the Court finds that there would be no violation of Article 3 in his case.