Freed sexual abuse convict re-arrested upon prosecutor’s objection

Freed sexual abuse convict re-arrested upon prosecutor’s objection

Oya Armutçu – ISTANBUL
Freed sexual abuse convict re-arrested upon prosecutor’s objection A sexual abuse convict, who was freed despite being sentenced to over 16 years behind bars after an Istanbul court cited a Constitutional Court annulment narrowing the punishment scope of such abuse offenses, has been re-arrested by the same court after the prosecutor objected to the ruling.

On Oct. 2, the Silivri Court of Serious Crimes overturned a ruling made a day earlier that freed 73-year-old Azmi Ergüney, who was already convicted and sentenced to 16 years, 10 months and 15 days for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, on the grounds that his imprisonment would be unfair because Turkey’s top court has annulled a law made regarding the type of crime he committed and no new law has been passed to replace that annulment.

On May 23, Turkey’s Constitutional Court annulled a law that stipulated prison time for all offenders abusing those under the age of 15, noting that not all sexual actions involving those under 15 would constitute an abuse. The court, however, gave six months for the annulment to go into force, with the expectation that it would be replaced with another law that stipulates heavier sentences for abusers.

Before the expiration of that six-month period, the Silivri court ordered the release of Ergüney on probation saying that it could not predict when the annulled law would be replaced with a new one, noting that if its introduction exceeded the expiration date of the six-month period, then the convict could be released and his time served in prison could be considered a rights violation. 

The Silivri Public Prosecutor’s Office, however, objected to the court’s decision, prompting the court to reconvene and order the re-arrest of Ergüney. 

Releasing a two-page justification on its decision, the court said the probation decision issued to the convict did not always prevent flight risks, noting that Ergüney could flee due to his “socio-economic situation.” 
The court also stated that even if the offender remains in prison until the end of the six-month period and is necessarily released due to the absence of any replacement legislation, his time in prison would not be tantamount to a rights violation. 

The court also said that if such a case occurs, he could apply for compensation in restitution for the time spent in jail.