Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, IV Section, 14 April 2015, Contrada v. Italy (Application No. 6655/13)

The ECHR Court stated in this judgment that the conviction of Bruno Contrada by Italian courts for the offense of ‘concorso in associazione mafiosa’ (i.e., the conduct of supporting mafia association without participating in it in proper sense) infringed Article 7 of the ECHR (non-retroactivity of criminal law). The Court upheld the applicant’s argument that this particular offense was not provided for in Italian criminal law at the time of the facts of the proceedings; the offense is, in fact, the result of a longlasting jurisprudential process, which ended in 1994. Before that date, the applicant could not know with sufficient certainty and clarity whic penal consequences were attached to his conduct. For this reason, the decisions of the national courts were in violation of the principles of non-retroactivity of law in criminal matters and ‘nulla poena sine lege’.