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Turkey: Judges rule on Cevat Soysal human rights complaint

Judges today declared that Turkey’s authorities did breach European human rights law in their treatment of Cevat Soysal.

Cevat Soysal v. Turkey (no. 17362/03)

The applicant, Cevat Soysal, is a Turkish national who was born in 1962 and lives in Germany. The case concerned his complaint about the unfairness of the criminal proceedings brought against him for membership of the PKK, an illegal organisation.

In July 1999, Soysal was captured in Chisinau (Moldova) and taken to Turkey for trial. Shortly after his arrival, a number of news articles referred to him as a “terrorist”, “a traitor to the country”, the “second man of the PKK” and the “European representative of the PKK”. He was convicted of membership of the PKK and sentenced to 18 years and nine months’ imprisonment in June 2002.

The conviction was based to a decisive extent on transcripts of Soysal’s tapped telephone conversations, during which he had allegedly issued instructions to members of the PKK to perpetrate acts of violence in Turkey, as well as a number of witness statements made to the police by Abdullah Öcalan (the leader of the PKK) and persons accused of membership of the PKK.

Soysal’s conviction was upheld on appeal in December 2002. He was released from prison on probation in November 2008 and went to Germany, where his family were living.

Relying in particular on Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (d) (right to a fair trial and right to obtain attendance and examination of witnesses), Soysal alleged that the criminal proceedings against him had been unfair for a number of reasons including: first, because his conviction had been based on the use of unlawfully obtained evidence (namely phone tapping which had not been authorised by a court order);

second, because the courts had refused to provide him with a copy of the audiotapes with the alleged telephone conversations; and, third, because, despite his repeated requests, the courts had refused to call those persons, including Abdullah Öcalan, who had made witness statements against him to testify before the trial court.

Violation of Article 6 § 1
Violation of Article 6 § 1 taken together with Article 6 § 3 (d)

Just satisfaction: EUR 7,500 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 2,500 (costs and expenses)

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