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THE FACTS

The applicants, ... are Turkish nationals. They were represented before the Court by Ms Z.S. Özdoğan, a lawyer practising in İzmir.

A.  The circumstances of the case

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.

1.  Arrest and police custody

On 13 May 1996 officers from the anti-terrorist branch of the Ankara Security Directorate arrested all the applicants except S.Ö., who was arrested the following day, in an operation that had been mounted against an illegal organisation, Ekim. The applicants were detained on anti-terrorist branch premises.

A request by the applicants' lawyer for permission to meet H.E. was turned down by the public prosecutor at the National Security Court on 17 May 1996, on the grounds that Article 136 of the Code of Criminal Procedure did not apply to offences triable in the national security courts and the investigation was confidential.

On 24 May 1996, at the end of their period in police custody, the applicants were questioned by the public prosecutor and brought before a judge of the Ankara National Security Court, who made orders for S.A. and H.A.'s release and for the other applicants to be detained pending trial.

On 4 June 1996 S.A. was arrested and detained under an arrest warrant issued by the National Security Court on 29 May 1996.

Following a complaint by H.E., criminal proceedings were brought against certain police officers who he alleged had ill-treated him while he was in custody. Those proceedings are still pending. A police surgeon issued a medical report on 24 May 1996 stating that N.Ç., K.T., H.E. and S.A. had sustained bruising to their bodies and were unfit for work for five days, two days, one day and three days respectively. He also noted that B.Ö. had a one centimetre deep cut to his penis and S.Ö. was suffering from pain in her arms.

2.  The prosecution

On 21 June 1996 the public prosecutor brought charges against the applicants in the National Security Court. He alleged that they were leaders or members of the illegal organisation Ekim and requested the Court to apply section 7(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (Law no. 3713).

After a hearing on 6 November 1996, the trial judges granted S.A. and S.Ö. bail.

In a judgment of 10 March 1997, the National Security Court found N.Ç. and B.Ö. guilty of leading an armed gang and sentenced the former to seven years' imprisonment and a fine of 4,200,000,000 Turkish liras (TRL) and the latter to six years' imprisonment and a fine of TRL 3,600,000,000. They were also banned from the civil service for life. K.T. was found guilty of being a member of an illegal organisation and sentenced to three years' imprisonment and a fine of TRL 1,250,000,000. He was banned from the civil service for three years. S.Ö. and S.A. were found guilty under section 7(2) of Law no. 3713 of aiding and abetting an armed gang, and given a ten-month prison sentence and a fine of TRL 500,000,000. H.E. and H.A. were acquitted.

Following an appeal on points of law by the applicants, the Court of Cassation overturned the judgment on the ground that two of the accused, S.A. and S.Ö., had not been permitted to present further argument after the offence with which they were charged was reclassified.

The case file was remitted to the National Security Court, which remedied the procedural defects noted by the Court of Cassation before proceeding on 12 August 1998 to hand down the same sentences to all the applicants except K.T., whose sentence was reduced to two years and six months' imprisonment and a fine of TRL 1,000,000,000.

On an unspecified date the applicants lodged a fresh appeal with the Court of Cassation, which on this occasion upheld the impugned judgment.

On 26 September 1999 N.Ç. was killed in an operation by the security forces at Ulucanlar Prison in Ankara. The Court of Cassation discontinued the criminal proceedings against him as a result of his death.

The applicants' lawyer has informed the Court that his widow, Mrs H.Ç., wishes to proceed with the application.

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COMPLAINTS

Relying on Article 5 § 3 of the Convention, the applicants complained, firstly, of the length of time they were held in police custody.

They also alleged that they had not had a fair trial within the meaning of Article 6 of the Convention, as the criminal courts had ruled admissible in evidence statements and confessions which had been extracted from them while they were in police custody.

They complained of a violation of Article 6 § 3 (a) of the Convention in that they had not been properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against them.

Under Article 6 § 3 (c), they complained that their right to legal assistance had been infringed, both while they were in police custody and when they were questioned by the public prosecutor and the National Security Court judge.

Lastly, they complained that they had not been permitted any contact with their families throughout their period in police custody.

THE LAW

1.  The Court notes at the outset that N.Ç. has died and that his widow has informed it that she wishes to continue with the proceedings.

The Court has in a number of cases acceded to similar requests that have been made by close relatives of deceased applicants to continue with the proceedings (see, among other authorities, Vocaturo v. Italy, judgment of 24 May 1991, Series A no. 206-C, p. 29, § 2, and X v. France, judgment of 31 March 1992, Series A no. 234-C, p. 89, § 26). In line with that practice, the Court holds that the deceased applicant's widow has standing in the present case to continue the proceedings in his stead.

2.  The applicants maintained that they had not had a fair trial within the meaning of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) of the Convention, as the criminal courts had ruled admissible in evidence confessions which had been extracted from them while they were in police custody, and they had been denied access to a lawyer during that period.

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For these reasons, the Court,

unanimously,

Adjourns the examination of the applicants' complaints regarding the length of time they were held in police custody (Article 5 § 3 of the Convention) and the fact that they were unable to contact their families while in police custody (Article 8), and of the complaint by B.Ö., S.Ö., K.T. and S.A. that they did not have a fair trial (Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c));

by a majority,

Declares the complaint of B.Ö., S.Ö., K.T. and S.A. under Article 6 § 3 (a) inadmissible;

unanimously ,

Declares the remainder of the application inadmissible.

ORS AND OTHERS v. TURKEY DECISION


ÖRS AND OTHERS v. TURKEY DECISION