AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF
Application no. 47115/99
by Ulaş ÇELİK
The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting on 4 October 2005 as a Chamber composed of
Mr J. Casadevall, President,
Mr G. Bonello,
Mr R. Türmen,
Mr K. Traja,
Mr S. Pavlovschi,
Ms L. Mijović,
Mr J. Šikuta, judges,
and Mr M. O’Boyle, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged with the European Commission of Human Rights on 21 October 1998,
Having regard to Article 5 § 2 of Protocol No. 11 to the Convention, by which the competence to examine the application was transferred to the Court,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Ulaş Çelik, is a Turkish national who was born in 1979 and lives in Ankara. He is represented before the Court by Mrs Bedia Buran and Mr Mehmet Nuri Özmen, lawyers practising in Ankara.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
On 19 July 1995 police officers from the anti-terrorism branch of the Ankara Security Directorate arrested the applicant in connection with an investigation carried out against an illegal organisation, namely, the DHKP/C.
The applicant was placed in custody at the Ankara Security Directorate, where he was interrogated until 31 July 1995. During his interrogation by the police officers, the applicant was forced to sign certain statements in which he acknowledged his participation in illegal demonstrations organised by the DHKP/C.
On 31 July 1995 the applicant was brought before the public prosecutor at the Ankara State Security Court before whom he denied both the accuracy of his statements taken by the police and all the charges against him. However, he admitted having participated in a demonstration which took place on 2 July 1995. He further maintained that he had carried a banner on behalf of a legal foundation during that demonstration. On the same day, the public prosecutor ordered the applicant’s release.
On 16 August 1995 the public prosecutor at the Ankara State Security Court filed a bill of indictment charging the applicant as well as twelve other persons with membership of an illegal organisation under Article 168 § 2 of the Turkish Criminal Code.
On 21 and 26 November 1996 the applicant denied before the Ankara State Security Court the veracity of the statements he made while in custody, alleging that they were taken under duress. He however confirmed his statements taken by the public prosecutor at the Ankara State Security Court.
On 5 June 1997 the Ankara State Security Court convicted the applicant of aiding and abetting the members of the DHKP/C and sentenced him to two years and six months’ imprisonment. The Ankara State Security Court based its judgment on the applicant’s statements taken by the police as well as his photographs taken during the demonstration of 2 July 1995. The applicant’s face appeared in the above-mentioned photographs partially covered by a piece of cloth which was a symbol of the DHKP/C.
The applicant appealed against the judgement.
On 17 April 1998 the Court of Cassation upheld the Ankara State Security Court’s judgment. The decision of the Court of Cassation was publicly pronounced on 22 April 1998.
The applicant complains under Article 3 of the Convention that he was subjected to ill-treatment while in police custody.
The applicant contends under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that his detention in police custody lasted for an unreasonable length of time.
The applicant submits under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that he did not receive a fair trial by an independent and impartial tribunal. In this connexion, he contends that the judges sitting on the bench of the State Security Court cannot be considered as independent and impartial as the military judge is attached to the Military Service and that the civil judges are attached to the Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors. He further alleges under the same head that he was convicted on the sole basis of his statements taken under duress by the police.
The applicant finally maintains that his right to enjoy his aforementioned rights was not limited in respect of the prescription of the Article 18.
1. The Court notes first that the applicant did not provide any details as to the kind of ill-treatment which was allegedly inflicted on him. The Court reiterates that a mere allegation of duress in itself, without any description as to what form that duress had taken, is not sufficient to be interpreted as an allegation of ill-treatment. Furthermore, throughout the criminal proceedings the applicant confined himself to challenging the admissibility of his statements which were allegedly procured under duress when he was in custody. However, an allegation of duress, made within such a limited scope, cannot of itself lay the basis of an arguable claim of ill-treatment.
The Court further observes that the applicant has not produced any concrete evidence in support of his allegations of ill-treatment. In this regard, the Court would like to point out that the applicant’s detention in police custody ended on 31 July 1995, day he has been released. Thus, he could without difficulty obtain a medical report to lean his allegations of ill-treatment.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that the applicant has not laid the basis of an arguable claim that he was ill-treated at the hands of the police officers while in police custody. For these reasons, the Court finds that his complaint under Article 3 of the Convention are inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and 4 of the Convention.
2. The applicant complains under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention that he was detained in police custody for an unreasonable length of time.
The Court reiterates that, according to the established case-law, when an act of an authority is not open to any effective remedy, as in the present case, the six-month period runs from the date on which the act took place (see, Kubettin Baran v. Turkey (dec.), no. 46777/99, 10 May 2005).
The Court notes that the applicant’s detention in police custody ended on 31 July 1995, whereas the application was lodged with the Court on 21 October 1998.
It follows that this part of the application has been introduced out of time and must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.
3. The applicant complains, under three limbs, that he was denied a fair hearing in breach of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.
As to the applicant’s first complaint regarding the independence and impartiality of the Ankara State Security Court, the Court considers that it cannot, on the basis of the case file, determine the admissibility of this complaint and that it is therefore necessary, in accordance with Rule 54 § 2 (b) of the Rules of Court, to give notice of this part of the application to the respondent Government.
As for the applicant’s further allegations in respect of the independence and the impartiality of the civil judges, the Court reiterates that it has already rejected similar complaints in its İmrek v. Turkey decision (no. 57175/00, 28 January 2003). The Court finds no particular circumstances in the instant case which would require departing from its findings in the above-mentioned case. It follows that this part of the complaint is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
Finally, as to the complaint concerning the confessions taken allegedly under duress which were admitted as evidence, the Court reiterates that the Convention does not lay down rules on evidence as such. The admissibility of evidence is primarily a matter for regulation by national law and, as a rule it is for the national courts to assess the evidence before them (see Kostovski v. the Netherlands, judgment of 20 November 1989, Series A no. 166, p. 19, § 39). However, an issue may arise under Article 6 § 1 in respect of evidence obtained in violation of Article 3 of the Convention even if the admission of such evidence was not decisive in securing the conviction.
In this connection, the Court refers to its conclusion above in that the applicant has not laid the basis of an arguable claim that his statements were taken by the police under duress. Thus, it was for the Ankara State Security Court to assess the evidence before it as well as its relevance which the applicant sought to challenge.
The Court observes that, in its judgment, the Ankara State Security Court did not take into account the applicant’s statements taken by the police whose veracity was subsequently denied by him. The first-instance court based its judgment on the applicant’s statements which he had reiterated throughout the proceedings. In this connection, the Court emphasizes that the applicant acknowledged that he had participated in the demonstration of 2 July 1995 both before the public prosecutor and the Ankara State Security Court. Furthermore, the fact that the applicant participated in the demonstration on behalf of the DHKP/C was supported by the photographs taken by the security forces. Finally, the applicant never complained before the national authorities that his defence rights were restricted on account of the use of these photographs.
It follows that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.
4. The Court observes that the complaint raised by the applicant under Article 18 of the Convention does not raise any issues. It follows that this part of the application must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Articles 35 § 3 of the Convention.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to adjourn the examination of the applicant’s complaints concerning the independence and impartiality of the Ankara State Security Court;
Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.
Michael O’Boyle Josep Casadevall
ÇELİK v. TURKEY DECISION
ÇELİK v. TURKEY DECISION