Lawyers Ergin Cinmen and Figen Çalıkuşu call for Altan’s immediate release after the European court finds his rights have been violated
Lawyers for imprisoned journalist and academic Mehmet Altan issued a statement on 20 March, calling for Altan’s release after the European Court of Human Rights found that his right to liberty and security and freedom of expression had been violated.
Calling his case a “legal tragedy,” the lawyers said they demand “immediate release of our client, who has been deprived of his liberty for 18 months, the injustice of which has been confirmed by the Constitutional Court at home and by the European Court of Human Rights internationally.”
Full text of the statement is as follows:
We would like to emphasize a legally crucial fact, a fact of vast significance once again:
Having examined all the allegations presented as “evidence” in Professor Mehmet Altan’s case and having even viewed the prosecutor’s final opinion, the Constitutional Court ruled that there are not solid facts in the case to justify even the pre-trial detention.
This is a clear violation of Article 19 of the Constitution. It is usurpation of personal liberty.
The Plenary of the Constitutional Court expresses this in the following way, in paragraph 117 of its judgment:
“It has been concluded by the Constitutional Court that investigation authorities have resorted to detention measure in respect of the applicant without establishing strong indication of guilt through concrete facts.”
Despite this judgment of the Plenary of the Constitutional Court, the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court gave Mehmet Altan an “aggravated life sentence.”
The release of our client Mehmet Altan has been prevented and his freedom has been restricted by two members of the Court who do not hesitate to openly and publicly violate Article 153 of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, two members of the Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court, the next court of first instance with which an objection to the decision of the Istanbul 26th High Criminal Court was filed, acted in the same way. Consequently, the liberty of our client has been usurped since 11 January 2018, which amounts to a constitutional crime.
The Constitutional Court then concluded that the courts that had not implemented the Plenary judgment committed a further rights violation and, emphasized, in a unanimous decision announced on 16 March 2018, that “it is up to the Constitutional Court to conclusively decide whether strong indication of guilt has been established with new findings.”
Conclusions of the Constitutional Court, which also acts as the Supreme Criminal Tribunal when necessary, are also certain. Rulings of the first instance courts are again brought before the Constitutional Court after being reviewed by appellate courts and the Court of Cassation in the form of individual applications.
The Plenary of the Constitutional Court has found three different constitutional violations in respect of Mehmet Altan’s application.
Today, the European Court of Human Rights also established that Mehmet Altan had been deprived of his liberty for 18 months by the State of the Republic of Turkey in violation of provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights and confirmed the universal legal validity of the Constitutional Court Plenary judgment.
In its judgment published today, the European Court of Human Rights established that the continuation of the detention of Mehmet Altan after the Constitutional Court’s undisputedly clear ruling that Article 10 and paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the Constitution had been violated could not be deemed to be in compliance with legal and procedural safeguards proscribed by law required by the right to personal liberty and security.
In this respect, it is nothing short of a legal tragedy that Mehmet Altan was arrested on 10 September 2016, placed in pre-trial detention on 22 September 2016, summarily sacked from his job at the Istanbul University – a job he had held for the past 30 years – under an emergency decree, and, finally, given an aggravated life sentence on the basis of a case file which does not does not justify even pre-trial detention.
It is a big and dark stain on the judicial history of Turkey.
We demand immediate release of our client, who has been deprived of his liberty for 18 months, the injustice of which has been confirmed by the Constitutional Court at home and by the European Court of Human Rights internationally.
Now that the European Court of Human Rights decision is released, duty and responsibility fall on the shoulders of the respondent state, that is the State of the Republic of Turkey, and its relevant institutions.