European court imposes heavy fines on Turkey

European court imposes heavy fines on Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
European court imposes heavy fines on Turkey

Thousands of women stage a protest against the PM’s abortion ban bid in Istanbul. AFP photo

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against Turkey in five cases of rights violations, ordering it to pay a total of 139,000 euros in damages and expenses to the complainants.

In the rulings made public yesterday, the highest fine came in a case filed by Gönül Ülüfer, whose son İdris Ülüfer died on April 20, 2003, after being shot by a police officer as he was trying to escape, while handcuffed, from the courthouse following a hearing in a trial against him for theft. The court ruled that this case involved two violations of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to life. Turkey was ordered to pay 40,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages and 15,000 euros in pecuniary damages.

In another case regarding police violence, the court ordered Turkey to pay 19,500 euros in non-pecuniary damages and 1,000 euros in expenses to Gökhan Eski, who claimed that he was beaten at a police station in December 2002 after arguing with an officer while he was drunk. Eski complained that was blindfolded and beaten with wooden sticks and truncheons at the police station that night. The court found this to be in violation of Article 3, which prohibits torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

In a case regarding the “Operation Return to Life” in 2000, in which scores of inmates died after security forces raided 20 prisons across Turkey, applicant Ali Ekber Düzova was awarded 18,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages and 2,000 euros in expenses. Düzova was serving a life sentence in Istanbul’s Bayrampaşa Prison when the operation took place on Dec. 19, 2000. He suffered bullet wounds and alleged in his application to the ECHR that the force used against him had been disproportionate. Düzova also complained that he had not been given appropriate medical treatment for his injuries and that he was unable to apply to the Administrative Court for compensation. The court ruled that such acts were violations of his rights to life and to a fair trial.

Another issue before the ECHR was Turkey’s use of disciplinary cell punishment in the military. Four applicants, who were confined in disciplinary cells while serving in the army, were awarded non-pecuniary damages of 2,000 to 7,500 euros for the violation of their right to liberty. The applicants had complained that the punishment “was imposed on them by their military hierarchical superiors and not by an independent and impartial tribunal.”

Turkey was also found to have violated the right to liberty and right to an effective remedy in the case of Serbian citizen Sefkija Ademovic. Ademovic, who was arrested at the Turkish border for a crime for which he had been tried in Italy and sentenced to 17 years in prison, had filed a complaint regarding the unlawfulness of his ensuing provisional detention in a Turkish prison for five years with a view to his eventual extradition to Italy. He also complained about the excessive length – more than 10 years – of the criminal proceedings brought against him in Turkey on drug trafficking charges, leading to him being awarded 26,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages by the ECHR.

Turkey has been trying to decrease the number of applications made to the ECHR against it because the country ranks at the top of the list of countries most frequently found in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.