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HomeHeadlineCelebrating the Triumph of Justice: ECHR Ruling on Unlawful Charges in Turkey

Celebrating the Triumph of Justice: ECHR Ruling on Unlawful Charges in Turkey

“According to the statement made by the Turkish Minister of Justice in July, proceedings were initiated against 693,162 individuals under the Gülen Movement charges. Currently, there are 67,893 ongoing investigations and 26,893 ongoing trials. Convictions have been issued against 122,632 individuals. These numbers may seem like statistics, but each one represents a husband, father, mother, sibling, or child – in other words, 122,632 people have been convicted. So, what crimes did these individuals commit to be sentenced to various prison terms, with at least 6 years and 3 months?

The answer to this question has been clearly provided by the European Court of Human Rights in its recent Yalçınkaya judgment, which was published yesterday. The ECHR used many legal terms in its decision, making it somewhat technical, so let me try to explain what the decision means and the reasoning behind the charges.

In essence, the ECHR stated the following: “According to your account, Turkey, you have arrested and punished tens of thousands of people on charges of ‘killing a person who is not alive.’ In other words, you have suddenly changed traffic rules retroactively, introduced a rule that says red lights should be crossed instead of green lights, and declared those who crossed green lights five years ago as guilty. You have accused hundreds of thousands of people of killing a person who is not alive, which is clearly unlawful because it is impossible to kill a person who is not alive.” The ECHR found violations and called for the systematic issue to be resolved urgently, for those imprisoned to be released immediately, and for ongoing cases to be dropped.

Indeed, this is precisely what the principle of “no crime or punishment without law,” as stated in Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, means. I used these examples to explain this article because understanding and explaining it is not easy. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people were detained on charges of ‘killing a person who is not alive,’ most of them were arrested, some were subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and all of them lost years, health, lives, jobs, and families. During this process, no one came out and said that such an accusation is impossible; instead, they tried to add fuel to the fire. Finally, the ECHR put an end to this madness, madness, insanity, and lunacy by saying that there is no such thing as the killing of a person who is not alive.

The issue is not about using Bylock, opening an account at Bank Asya, being a member of an association or union, or participating in conversations. The issue is the attempt to punish people as if there were crimes that did not exist. The government tried to convince everyone of the existence of a non-existent organization through the atmosphere it created and threw people in jail for being members of a non-existent organization. Due to the chaos, confusion, and atmosphere of threat, those accused couldn’t loudly say, ‘What are you doing? What you’re saying is not true. I am neither a member of any organization nor have I committed any crime.’ Courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies tried to forcibly convince people that they were guilty. They also arrested and convicted those who did not accept the charges and tried to explain their innocence.

After the historic decision of the ECHR, it became clear that what happened was a complete violation of the law. Hopefully, thanks to this decision, this madness will come to an end, and people will not be subjected to arrest, detention, and conviction for non-existent crimes again.

As the ECHR said, the person you claim to have killed was not alive at that time. Therefore, a person who is not alive cannot be killed. For this reason, everyone detained on baseless allegations should be released immediately, and all cases should be dropped.”

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Nurullah Albayrak is lawyer and columnist at TR724.com

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