Ex-judge: Turkey in for scolding by Euro court
Hüseyin Hayatsever - ANKARA
Rıza Türmen, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, speaks to reporters. Türmen told the Hürriyet Daily News that the European court examines only rights violations and does not deal with the merits of cases handled by national courts.The European Court of Human Rights will certainly condemn Turkey over journalist Tuncay Özkan’s three-year imprisonment in the Ergenekon case, a former Turkish judge at the European court has said, dismissing suggestions that the court approved of much-criticized pre-trial detentions.
The European court found Özkan’s arrest “reasonable” based on the charge sheet, Rıza Türmen, who is now a deputy for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in reference to the court’s recent interim judgment on the matter, but added that it had not yet ruled on the length of his detention.
“Taking into account its previous rulings, the court will undoubtedly decide that Özkan’s detention violates the European Convention of Human Rights,” Türmen told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Some commentators have hailed the court ruling as a major blow to critics who question the credibility of the Ergenekon case and argue that it has degenerated into a campaign to silence dissent. Some have even maintained that the European court had by implication accepted the existence of the Ergenekon network – something that has not yet been proven by Turkish courts.
Türmen dismissed the comments as “either ignorant or ill-intentioned” and added that the European court examines only rights violations and does not deal with the merits of cases handled by national courts.
“The court found Özkan’s [initial] detention reasonable but this does not mean that the continuation of his detention is reasonable,” he said.
Özkan, a vocal government opponent, was arrested Sep. 27, 2008, on charges that he belonged to “the Ergenekon terrorist organization” and led propaganda activities as part of the network’s plans to plunge Turkey into chaos and prompt a military coup to topple the government. He applied to the European court on grounds that his right to a fair trial had been violated and that he had been detained for too long. The court dismissed his complaint on the lack of a fair trial, but agreed to examine whether his pre-trial detention complied with norms.
“The court will ask the [Turkish] government questions about our complaints and then rule,” Özkan’s lawyer, Ahmet Çörtoğlu, told the Daily News. The European court sanctioned Özkan’s detention on the basis of terror-related charges leveled by prosecutors against the journalist, which includes misleading information, he said. k HDN