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Religious Symbols in European Classrooms (Lautsi and Others v. Italy)
Grand Chamber, Case Of Lautsi And Others V. Italy, Strasbourg, 18 March 2011
1. The case originated in an application (no. 30814/06) against the Italian Republic lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by an Italian national, Ms Soile Lautsi (“the first applicant”) on 27 July 2006. In her application she stated that she was acting in her own name and on behalf of her children Dataico and Sami Albertin, then minors. The latter, who have subsequently come of age, confirmed that they wished to remain applicants (“the second and third applicants”).
2. The applicants were represented by Mr N. Paoletti, a lawyer practising in Rome. The Italian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Ms E. Spatafora, and their deputy co-Agents, Mr N. Lettieri and Ms P. Accardo.
3. The application was allocated to the Court's Second Section (Rule 52 § 1 of the Rules of Court). On 1 July 2008 a Chamber of that Section, composed of the following judges: Françoise Tulkens, Antonella Mularoni, Vladimiro Zagrebelsky, Danute Jociene, Dragoljub Popovic, András Sajó and Isil Karakas, decided to give notice of the application to the Government; applying the provisions of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention, it also decided to rule on the admissibility and merits of the application at the same time.
4. On 3 November 2009 a Chamber of the same Section, composed of the following judges: Françoise Tulkens, Ireneu Cabral Barreto, Vladimiro Zagrebelsky, Danute Jociene, Dragoljub Popovic, András Sajó and Isil Karakas, declared the application admissible and held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1, taken together with Article 9 of the Convention, and that it was not necessary to examine the complaint under Article 14 of the Convention.
5. On 28 January 2010 the Government asked for the case to be referred to the Grand Chamber by virtue of Article 43 of the Convention and Rule 73. On 1 March 2010 a panel of the Grand Chamber granted that request.
6. The composition of the Grand Chamber was determined according to the provisions of Article 26 §§ 4 and 5 of the Convention and Rule 24.
7. The applicants and the Government each filed further written observations on the merits.
8. Leave to intervene in the written procedure (Article 36 § 2 of the Convention and Rule 44 § 2) was given to thirty-three members of the European Parliament acting collectively, the non-governmental organisation Greek Helsinki Monitor, which had previously intervened before the Chamber, the non-governmental organisation Associazione nazionale del libero Pensiero, the non-governmental organisation European Centre for Law and Justice, the non-governmental organisation Eurojuris, the non-governmental organisations International Committee of Jurists, Interights and Human Rights Watch, acting collectively, the non-governmental organisations Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken, Semaines sociales de France and Associazioni cristiane lavoratori italiani, acting collectively, and the Governments of Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Russian Federation, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Romania and the Republic of San Marino.
The Governments of Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Russian Federation, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, and the Republic of San Marino were also given leave to intervene collectively in the oral procedure.
9. A hearing took place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 30 June 2010 (Rule 59 § 3).
There appeared before the Court:
(a) for the respondent Government Mr Nicola LETTIERI, co-Agent, Mr Giuseppe ALBENZIO, Adviser;
(b) for the applicants Mr Nicolò PAOLETTI, Counsel, Ms Natalia PAOLETTI, Ms Claudia SARTORI, Advisers;
(c) for the Governments of Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Russian Federation, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, and the Republic of San Marino, third-party interveners:
Mr Joseph WEILER, Professor of Law, New York University, Counsel, Mr Stepan KARTASHYAN, Deputy Permanent Representative of Armenia to the Council of Europe, Mr Andrey TEHOV, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the Council of Europe, Mr Yannis MICHILIDES, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the Council of Europe, Ms Vasileia PELEKOU, Deputy Permanent Representative of Greece to the Council of Europe, Mr Darius ŠIMAITIS, Deputy Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the Council of Europe, Mr Joseph LICARI, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malta to the Council of Europe, Mr Georgy MATYUSHKIN, Government Agent of the Russian Federation, Mr Guido BELLATTI CECCIOLI, co-Agent of the Government of the Republic of San Marino, Advisers.
The Court heard addresses by Mr Nicolò Paoletti, Ms Natalia Paoletti, Mr Lettieri, Mr Albenzio and Mr Weiler.
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