Early disciplinary punishment before the criminal justice judgement cancels the presumption of innocence
Kemal Coşkun v. Turkey 28-03-2017 (no. 45028/07)
Presumption of innocence. Early disciplinary decision. The applicant denounced his dismissal by the police and the relative legal proceedings, which he alleged were unfair. During the disciplinary proceedings, the Supreme Disciplinary Board found that the applicant had committed the offenses of rape, assault, and violence under the threat of a gun and ordered him to be expelled from the police. However, in the criminal proceedings, Mr Coskun was acquitted of robbery, attempted rape and detention, and later he was acquitted of all the accusations he had been charged with. On the basis of Article 6 § 2 (presumption of innocence) the applicant complained that the disciplinary authorities had breached his right to the presumption of innocence, concluding that he had been guilty before the outcome of his criminal trial and that he had been sentenced for these reasons even after he had been acquitted. The ECtHR found that there had been a violation of the Convention.
Disciplinary decisions which refer to the commission of criminal offenses prior to ruling the criminal courts violate the presumption of innocence of the disciplined person.
The applicant, Kemal Çoşkun, is a Turkish national who was born in 1964 and lives in Antalya (Turkey). He complained of his dismissal from the police force and the related legal proceedings,
which he alleged had been unfair. In July 2004 police found Mr Çoşkun and a woman in a car, in an isolated part of the city of Samsun. The woman complained that Mr Çoşkun had kidnapped her, beaten her, and threatened to sexually assault her. Both disciplinary proceedings and criminal proceedings were initiated against him. In the disciplinary proceedings, the Supreme Disciplinary Council found it established that Mr Çoşkun had committed the offences of attempted rape, assault and threatening violence with a weapon, and ordered his dismissal from the police force. This decision was upheld by the Samsun Administrative Court. However, in the criminal proceedings Mr Çoşkun was then acquitted of imprisonment, robbery and attempted rape. Though he was convicted of assault and battery, he was later acquitted of these charges on appeal. In the disciplinary proceedings, Mr Çoşkun appealed the decision of the Samsun Administrative Court to uphold his dismissal, arguing that he had been acquitted of all the criminal charges which would have justified his removal from the police. However, his appeal was rejected, as were further legal challenges to his dismissal.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Relying on Article 6 § 2 (presumption of innocence), Mr Çoşkun complained that the disciplinary and judicial authorities had violated his right to be presumed innocent, by concluding that he had been guilty prior to his criminal trial, and by enforcing his dismissal on these grounds even after he had been acquitted.
Violation of Article 6 § 2
Just satisfaction: EUR 2,500 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 169 (costs and expenses)