Jail sentence for Turkish youth ‘disproportionate,’ Euro court says
STRASBOURGThe European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found that a jail sentence given to a 15-year-old boy for attending a demonstration in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in 2008 was disproportionate.
Ferit Gülcü, 15 years old at the time, was detained and arrested by a local court in Diyarbakır for throwing stones at police officers as they intervened during a demonstration in 2008.
Gülcü was convicted in November 2008 by the Diyarbakır Assize Court for membership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), disseminating propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and resisting the police.
Gülcü, who spent three months and 20 days in custody before being convicted, was given a total prison sentence of seven years and six months.
He served one year and eight months before being released in July 2010. His case was reassessed by the Diyarbakır Juvenile Court, which acquitted him of the terrorist organization membership charge, but convicted him for disseminating a terrorist group’s propaganda. The pronouncement of the convictions was suspended.
The court concluded that Gülcü’s convictions for throwing a stone at police during a demonstration had not been “necessary in a democratic society.”
The court concluded that “given Gülcü’s young age, the harshness of the sentences imposed was disproportionate.”
The court also noted that the local court in Turkey had failed to provide any reasons for Gülcü’s conviction for membership of the PKK or of disseminating propaganda in support of a terrorist organization.