ECHR Convicts Turkey of Violating Torture Ban

BIANET – 25.4.2013 – ECHR found Turkey guilty of violating torture ban, ordering the Turkish state to pay the applicants 24,000 euros as non-pecuniary damages and court expenses.

The European Court of Human Rights announced its verdict on the case of Osman Yazıcı, Erkan Polat and Kadir Sağın, who complaint that they were subjected to torture under police detention in 1998. The court found Turkey guilty of violating torture ban (Article 3 of the Convention), ordering the Turkish state to pay the applicants 24,000 euros as non-pecuniary damages and court expenses.

“Doctor was a friend of the police officer”

On 13 July 1998 Yazıcı and Polat were arrested and taken into custody at Gaziosmanpaşa police station on suspicion of their involvement in a robbery. Subsequently, on 15 July 1998 Sağın was taken into custody in connection with the same offense.

The three stated that they had been blindfolded, stripped naked, hung by their arms, given electric shocks, harassed, threatened, punched, kicked, beaten with truncheons and other blunt objects, and subjected to falaka (whipping on the soles of the feet). On 18 July 1998 the applicants were examined at a hospital. The doctor who examined them reported that there were no signs of physical violence on their bodies.

Yazıcı, Polat and Sağın reported to ECHR that the doctor was a friend of the police officer who had accompanied them to the hospital, and he had drafted the report without carrying out a medical examination. On 19 July 1998 the three were interrogated by the public prosecutor and the investigating judge. They also filed a criminal complaint with the public prosecutor and complained of ill-treatment. The public prosecutor initiated an investigation and ordered that the applicants be taken to the Gaziosmanpaşa Health Clinic for a medical examination. The doctor who examined the applicants noted bruises in applicants’ necks, faces, back and feet.

It was concluded that applicants were unfit to work up to seven days.

On 1 October 1999 the prosecutor at the Eyüp Assize Court filed an indictment against three police officers, accusing them of torture pursuant to Article 243 of the former Criminal Code.

On 25 October 2005 the Eyüp Assize Court decided that the acts allegedly committed by the accused police officers fell within the scope of Article 245 of the former Criminal Code, regarding ill-treatment.  On 8 November 2007 the Court of Cassation quashed the judgment of the first-instance court on the grounds that the statutory time-limit had expired.

The court also concluded that the Turkish government should be accountable for disclosing the reasons behind the damages detainees were inflicted. (AS/BM)