Statewatch article: RefNo# 6643
European rights court condemns Turkey in Ocalan case
Statewatch News Online, March 2003
CHAMBER JUDGMENT IN THE CASE OF ÖCALAN v. TURKEY
The European Court of Human Rights has today notified in writing a judgment [fn ] in the case of Öcalan v. Turkey (application no. 46221/99) concerning the applicant’s complaints relating, in particular, to the death penalty, alleged ill-treatment and his detention and trial.

Detention

The Court held, unanimously, that there had been:

no violation of Article 5 § 1

(no unlawful deprivation of liberty) of the European Convention on Human Rights in that the applicant’s arrest and detention had not been unlawful under the Convention;

a violation of Article 5 § 3

(right to be brought promptly before a judge) given the failure to bring the applicant before a judge promptly after his arrest;

a violation of Article 5 § 4

(right to have lawfulness of detention decided speedily by a court) given the lack of a remedy by which the applicant could have the lawfulness of his detention in police custody decided.

Fair trial

The Court held:

by six votes to one, that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 in that the applicant was not tried by an independent and impartial tribunal;

and unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial), taken together with Article 6 § 3 (b) (right to adequate time and facilities for preparation of defence) and (c) (right to legal assistance), in that the applicant did not have a fair trial.

Death penalty

The Court held:

unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 2 (right to life);

unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of ill-treatment) of the Convention, concerning the implementation of the death penalty;

and, by six votes to one, that there had been a violation of Article 3 concerning the imposition of the death penalty following an unfair trial.

Treatment and conditions

The Court held, unanimously, that there had been:

no violation of Article 3

of the Convention, concerning the conditions in which the applicant was transferred from Kenya to Turkey and the conditions of his detention on the island of I™mral.

Other complaints

The Court also held, unanimously, that there had been:

no violation of Article 14

of the Convention (prohibition of discrimination), taken together with Article 2 as regards the implementation of the death penalty;

no violation of Article 34

of the Convention (right of individual application).

Finally the Court held, unanimously, that no separate examination was necessary of the applicant’s remaining complaints under Articles 7 (no punishment without law), 8 (right to respect for private and family life), 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 10 (freedom of expression), 13 (right to an effective remedy), 14 and 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights).

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the Court held unanimously that its findings of a violation of Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the Convention constituted in themselves sufficient just satisfaction for any damage sustained by the applicant and awarded the applicant’s lawyers 100,000 euros (EUR) for costs and expenses.

1. Principal facts

Abdullah Öcalan, a Turkish national born in 1949 and former leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is currently incarcerated in I™mralž Prison (Bursa, Turkey).

At the time of the events in question, the Turkish courts had issued seven warrants for Mr Öcalan’s arrest and a wanted notice (red notice) had been circulated by Interpol. He was accused of founding an armed gang in order to destroy the integrity of the Turkish State and of instigating terrorist acts resulting in loss of life.

On 9 October 1998 he was expelled from Syria, where he had been living for many years. From there he went to Greece, Russia, Italy and then again Russia and Greece before going to Ke

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