The proceedings concerned a child born in Romania in March 2003. Following the birth, the mother occasionally worked in Italy for short periods of time. In 2005, after she had obtained a regular job there, the father agreed for the child to travel to Italy with the mother. A formal notarial deed of 26 April 2005 was signed to this effect.
In January 2006, the father travelled to Italy to bring the child back. The mother opposed the father’s attempt at return. Upon returning to Romania alone, the father filed a criminal complaint against the mother. The father subsequently moved to Qatar.
On 6 December 2006, the father travelled to Italy to visit his son. On 13 December, father and son travelled to Romania. On 8 January 2007, the mother joined them. On 15 January 2007, they all travelled to Moldova to visit to the mother’s family. On 20 January 2007, mother and child “disappeared”.
On 2 April 2007, the father applied to the Romanian Minister of Justice as the Central Authority responsible for the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention for assistance in securing the return of his son, whom the child’s mother had, he alleged, wrongfully removed to Italy on 20 January 2007.
The Bologna Prosecutor’s Office initiated return proceedings before the Bologna Youth Court (Tribunale per i minorenni). On 6 July 2007, the Bologna Youth Court refused the application for return. It found that the child had not been wrongfully removed.
Notwithstanding this finding, the Court further assessed the implications a return would have had for the child, and considered that psychological harm would have ensued given that the child was integrated into Italian society, albeit with some problems. On the 6 August 2007, the Italian Ministry of Justice informed the Romanian Ministry of Justice that the decision could be appealed against through an appeal on points of law to the Court of Cassation.
The father sought to appeal the order dismissing his return application, but due to repeatedly being given incomplete or misleading information about the appeal procedure by authorities and lawyers, and erroneous advice as to procedural formalities by appointed legal aid lawyers, he was unable to do so within the time limit available (9 October 2008).
The father filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR) on 24 January 2009 alleging a violation of Articles 6, 8, 13 and 14 of the ECHR, as well as under Article 5 of Protocol No 7 and Article 1 of Protocol No 12.