|Turkish state agents guilty of murder, says Euro Court|
Turkish state agents guilty of murder, says Euro Court
EIGHTEENTH SUCCESSFUL JUDGMENT FOR KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT BEFORE THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found agents of the Turkish state to be guilty of the abduction and killing of Mehmet Ertak, despite claims from the Turkish state to the contrary. A lawyer in the same cell as Mr Ertak gave evidence to the effect that those held in detention, including Mr Ertak, were stripped naked, hung up, severely beaten and hosed with cold water. Mr Ertak's lifeless body was returned to the cell they shared, and then moments later dragged from the cell. After several hours, Mr Ertak's lifeless body was brought back into the cell. Two minutes later he was dragged out of the cell by his legs. This case is representative of one of the rare occasions when the blame for the disappearance and murder of an individual in Turkey has been firmly apportioned to members of Turkey's security forces.
The Court found that the Turkish government was responsible for the death of Mehmet Ertak, concluding that the death had been caused by agents of the state, in clear breach of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Moreover the Court found that the Turkish government had further violated Article 2 by not undertaking adequate investigations following his disappearance. The Court subsequently awarded a total of £37,500 in compensation.
The case of Ismail Ertak v Turkey concerns the disappearance of the applicant's son, Mehmet Ertak, following a security operation in Sirnak, south east Turkey, in August 1992. Mehmet Ertak was stopped, with three other people, at a control point in Bakimevi, when returning from his daily work in a charcoal mine. The police officers took Mehmet Ertak with them. A lawyer who had been in the same cell as Mehmet Ertak for several days testified to the effect that individuals in detention had been subjected to torture: they were stripped naked, hung up, severely beaten and hosed with cold water. Mehmet Ertak was subjected to this treatment. After several hours, he was brought back into the cell and he appeared to be dead. Two minutes later he was dragged out of the cell by his legs. On the basis of this evidence, the Court held that it had been established beyond all reasonable doubt that Mehmet Ertak's death had been caused by agents of the State, some time after his arrest, as a result of treatment for which the State was responsible. In addition, the lack of an effective and adequate investigation into the circumstances of Mehmet Ertak's disappearance gave rise to a breach of Article 2. Mehmet Ertak has not been seen since.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1.The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.
2. The application was made by the Kurdish Human Rights Project on behalf of Ismail Ertak.
3. Ismail Ertak ('the applicant') lodged the case as a result of circumstances surrounding the disappearance and subsequent death of his son, Mehmet Ertak.
4. The Court, in a judgment handed down on Tuesday May 9, 2000, found Turkey to be in violation of Article 2 (right to life).
5. Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court awarded £15,000 in non-pecuniary damage, £20,000 in non-pecuniary damages and £2,500 in respect of the applicant himself. It also awarded £12,000 for legal costs and expenses.6. The European Court of Human Rights was set up in Strasbourg in 1959 to deal with alleged violations of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights. On 1 November 1998 a full-time Court was established, replacing the original two-tier system of a part-time Commission and Court.