ECHR finds Turkey right in phone-tapping case
STRASBOURGThe European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled there was no violation of right to a fair trial in the case of an imprisoned Turkish man who complained he had been subjected to unlawful recording of his conversations, which were used in court as evidence against him, as no judicial warrant to tap his phone had been issued.
Applicant Cem Kaçan’s case concerned the recording of his telephone conversations with people who were allegedly involved in drug trafficking and whose telephones were being tapped.
In 2005 some of these suspects had their phones tapped after authorization by an Istanbul court, which subsequently issued 14 other warrants to tap the suspects’ phones.
Kaçan was not one of these suspects however he had telephone conversations with some of them, including ones involved in delivery of goods from Iran.
On Aug. 15, 2005, several suspects were arrested in Istanbul and authorities seized some 153 kilograms of heroin and ancillary products for its manufacture.
Kaçan was arrested on Aug. 25, 2005, and during his testimony he said he knew the suspects, but denied any involvement in drug trafficking, adding that he had gone to Iran for other reasons. Kaçan was released on the same day, but an arrest warrant was issued against him in September 2005 and he absconded.
He was arrested in September 2007 and his lawyer challenged the legality of the evidence gathered through the tapped phones. The lawyer also argued that his client’s telephone conversations could be regarded as referring to an ordinary commercial transaction, given the fact that Kaçan was a trader.
In May 2008 Kaçan was sentenced to 16 years and three months in prison for his role in drug trafficking and the court based its decision on expert analysis of the various objects seized during the searches, the recordings of Kaçan’s telephone conversations with several other defendants and the consistency between those recordings and the manner in which events had unfolded.
After evaluating Kaçan’s case, the ECHR ruled that Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) had not been violated by Turkish authorities.