Arrested publisher applies to ECHR

Arrested publisher applies to ECHR

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Arrested publisher applies to ECHR

Publisher and activist Ragıp Zarakolu has been in jail since Nov 1, 2011. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Arrested publisher Ragıp Zarakolu’s lawyers have filed a suit at the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the prosecutor’s orders that led to his arrest on Nov. 1, 2011, as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials.

“[The KCK probe] is a politically [motivated] case filed by the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government, and the combination of the prosecutors’ and judges’ lack of independence and impartiality makes it difficult for a just and lawful verdict to be reached,” Zarakolu’s lawyer Özcan Kılıç told the Hürriyet Daily News.

The suit filed at the European court pertains to such matters as treatment in detention, the legal and material basis for the arrest and access to case files and evidence, rather than the trial process itself, in accordance with the requirements prescribed in the fifth article of the European Convention on Human Rights, which established the court, according to Kılıç.

“The KCK trial is going to be the case with the largest number of suspects in Istanbul since the military coup of 1980. It is still too early to comment on the course of the trial,” Kılıç said.

Tuncay Özkan, another suspect in the ongoing Ergenekon trials, had already applied to the European court last week on the grounds that his right to a fair trial had been violated and that he had been detained for an extensive period. The European court, however, rejected his complaint regarding the right to a fair trial but gave an interim decision addressing claims regarding the period of his arrest, indicating that the charge would be examined later.

“We are going to cite as the preamble our inability to access the documents and information in the file due to the ‘order of secrecy,’ the basing of the evidence and the accusations on [slippery] facts, the refusal of objections to the arrest without citing any serious and reasonable justification and the fact that no suit has yet been filed despite the passage of more than three months,” Kılıç said.

Cem Halavurt, one of the lawyers in the high-profile case of Hrant Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin murdered in 2007, also said the European court’s ruling on Özkan did not constitute a precedent because the court examines each file separately.

Domestic judiciary processes have to be completely exhausted before a file can be brought before the European court. Some 180 suspects will stand trial in the KCK probe, including Zarakolu, who continues to remain behind bars at a high-security prison in the northwestern province of Kocaeli.