The confession of an accused without the presence of a lawyer violates the fair trial

JUDGMENT

Bayram Koç v. Turkey  05-09-2017 ( no.  38907/09)

Bozkaya v. Turkey 05-09-2017 (no. 46661/09)

Türk v. Turkey 05-09-2017 (no. 22744/07)

SUMMARY 

The applicants complained that they had no access to a lawyer during a police interogation. All three of the applicants were questioned by the police about their involvement in an illegal criminal organization. All three were questioned and confessed without the presence of a lawyer. The ECtHR found that there had been a violation of the Convention (6 (1) and (3c) because of the coercion of the applicants and the violation of their right to access to a lawyer.

PROVISIONS

Article 6 par. 1

Article  6 par. 3 c

PRINCIPAL FACTS 

The applicants in these three cases, Bayram Koç, Ayhan Bozkaya and Mehmet Ali Türk, are Turkish nationals born in 1980, 1975 and 1972 respectively. Mr Koç lives in Diyarbakir while Mr Bozkaya and Mr Türk are currently in detention in Kahramanmaraş and Antalya (Turkey), respectively, the latter serving a life sentence. They complained about not having had access to a lawyer while being questioned by the police, in the case of Bayram Koc due to a systemic restriction of the right to have access to a lawyer under the law applicable at the time of his arrest – as he was accused of committing an offence that fell within the jurisdiction of the state security courts, which were later abolished – and in the other two cases as a result of the applicants’ alleged waiver of their right to have access to a lawyer.

All three applicants were questioned by the police, in 2003 and 2004 respectively, on suspicion, in particular, of membership in an illegal organisation. They all confessed, in the absence of a lawyer, to being members of an illegal organisation and, in the cases of Mr Bozkaya and Mr Türk, to having committed violent offences in connection with their membership in these organisations. During court hearings they later retracted parts of their confessions. All three applicants were convicted – Mr Koç of the membership in an armed organisation, and both Mr Bozkaya and Mr Türk of the offence of, in particular, seeking to remove part of the national territory from the State’s control – and given prison sentences. Their convictions were eventually upheld by the Court of Cassation in 2010, 2009 and 2006, respectively.

Relying in particular on Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) (right to a fair trial / right to legal assistance of own choosing) of the European Convention, all three applicants complained that their right to a fair trial was violated because their convictions were based on confessions obtained through unlawful coercion tactics and in the absence of a lawyer. Mr Türk maintained in particular that he had been led to believe that his confession was a mere formality because the offence for which he thought he was charged was time-barred.

THE DECISION OF THE COURT 

Violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) – in all three cases

Violation of Article 6 § 1 (length of proceedings) – in the case of Bozkaya Just satisfaction: In all three cases, the Court held that the finding of a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (c) of the

Convention constituted sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage sustained by the applicants in that connection. It further awarded EUR 2,000 EUR to Mr Bozkaya in respect of non-pecuniary damage in connection with the excessive length of the criminal proceedings, as well as EUR 750 EUR to Mr Koç, EUR 1,000 to Mr Bozkaya and EUR 2,000 to Mr Türk in respect of costs and expenses(echrcaselaw.com editing). 


ECHRCaseLaw

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