3 corresponding fine be imposed on the judge, believing that the triggering of statutory limitations was due to the lack of dispatch on the part of the court, but this claim was denied on November 10, 2005. 13. The petitioner explains that the Ecuadorian Criminal Code establishes a period of five years before statutory limitations apply to criminal proceedings, which indicates that five years represents the tolerable limit for the judiciary to reach a decision on a complainant’s claims. He claims that failing that, the legal system itself concludes the examination of the case for reasons of legal security. He contends that there was an unwarranted delay in the administration of justice in the instant case. Thus, he notes that more than five years went by from the issuing of the trial commencement deed to the call for the plenary trial; that the First Criminal Judge suspended the proceedings for more than 16 months during which no steps to further the case were taken; that the investigation stage took three times the maximum duration of six months allowed by procedural law, beginning on August 16, 2000, and concluding on November 27, 2001; and that there was a delay between the call for plenary proceedings, issued on February 17, 2003, and the resolution of the appeal on June 17, 2004, together with a delay in assessing bail and replacing preventive custody with alternative precautionary measures. 14. The petitioner adds that the criminal case file contains several documents urging the justice authorities to substantiate the process to prevent statutory limitations from being triggered; these include two documents from Melba Peralta Mendoza expressing her dissatisfaction with the slowness of the proceedings and three requests from interested parties for the public trial to take place. The unwarranted delay in justice was compounded in that, although the criminal charges against the physicians had been objectively established, the State’s power to take action was extinguished: not because of inadequate evidence, or because the accused succeeded in challenging the criminal charges, but on account of “a strange, undue delay in substantiating the proceedings which, in spite of the 4 insistence of the complainant, culminated with their prescription.” 15. The petitioner notes that although the Ecuadorian penal system establishes administrative and civil sanctions for authorities that cause unwarranted delays leading to the activation of statutory limitations, it failed to apply Article 101 of the Criminal Code in order to determine the responsibility for that unwarranted delay in justice. In addition, he contends that people effectively enjoy their right to legal security during judicial proceedings when the judge guarantees and upholds human rights and due process, in accordance with Article 24.13 of the Constitution, and hands down a grounded judgment in accordance with the guarantees of due process. However, the State denied justice by favoring impunity and promoting a delay in the substantiation of the proceedings in order for statutory limitations to be triggered. 16. He claims that the State was responsible for the triggering of statutory limitations, since the justice administration was warned of their possible application to the proceedings and, in spite of that, failed to prevent the possibility of punitive action from prescribing through the passage of time, which serves to make the violation of Articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention even more apparent. He adds that Article 1.1 of the Convention establishes the international responsibility of the State when it responds to a victim’s claim with a passive and complacent attitude. 17. At the same time, in response to the State’s argument that the delay was due to the victim’s procedural inactivity, in that there were remedies that could have been filed, the petitioner explains that the prosecution brought against Dr. Emilio Guerrero was for the crime of bodily harm, which is a publicly actionable offense; hence, the onus of ensuring swift and accurate substantiation was on the State and not on the victim. He adds that the State is confusing certain cases of civil statutory limitations through abandonment of the proceedings or procedural delays with statutory limitations in criminal cases, for which the justice administration is responsible, and that prescription is a formal recognition that the State has failed to resolve a criminal claim within a reasonable time, whereby it loses the ability to impose sanctions, creates impunity, and prevents the victim from continuing with the proceedings, which therefore constitutes a clear violation of the right to effective judicial protection and due process. 4 Petitioner’s submission, received on April 13, 2009.

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