The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) deemed the conviction based on the statements of witnesses who became confessors to benefit from ‘effective remorse’ as a violation of the ‘right to a fair trial.’
According to the decision of the ECHR shared by Dr. Gökhan Güneş, an international criminal law expert and human rights advocate, the applicant is being convicted based on the testimonies of 3 ‘confessors’ who obtained certain benefits in exchange for confessing to the crime. Erik Adamco, who exhausted domestic remedies in his country, knocks on the door of the ECHR and states that his right to a fair trial has been violated.
Upon reviewing the case, the ECHR states that national courts did not adequately consider the benefits of confessing witnesses in providing incriminating statements. The ECHR finds the abstract reasoning that the confessor’s statements were examined with “special attention” in local court decisions insufficient. It indicates that relying on the testimony of a witness who has an interest in making statements in their favor, rather than telling the truth, violates the right to a fair trial.
The decision states, “However, the use of statements provided by witnesses in exchange for impunity or other benefits (as a basis for judgment) can cast doubt on the fairness of the trial against the defendant. Such statements are inherently susceptible to manipulation and can give rise to complex issues, limited to the extent that witnesses can make them to obtain the proposed benefits or for personal revenge. Therefore, the danger of accusing and trying a person based on unverified allegations, which need not necessarily be unbiased, should not be underestimated.”
Lawyer Gökhan Güneş states that the mentioned decision directly affects ongoing trials in Turkey. Güneş says the following:
The applicant, Erik Adamčo, who was convicted based on the use of confessing statements, is the brother of Branislav Adamčo (No. 45084/14), for whom the ECHR ruled a violation in 2019 for the same reasons. Thus, the ECHR has invalidated the confessing statements with its decisions regarding the two brothers.
The decisions regarding the two brothers directly concern ongoing trials. In these cases, confessing statements are often the most important and sometimes the only evidence. Although these statements do not correspond to a crime in these files, courts impose punishments based on these statements and the individuals’ legal/routine activities. Therefore, there is no supporting corroborating evidence for confessing statements in current files.
The fabricated issues presented as evidence consist solely of the exercise of constitutional and legal rights. Therefore, when preparing defenses for individuals convicted of membership in an organization based on confessing statements, it would be beneficial to refer to the decisions given regarding the two brothers in applications to the Constitutional Court and the ECHR.
Another relevant ECHR decision regarding confessing statements is the Labita/Italy decision. The relevant paragraph of the decision is included in the visual. Reference to this decision can also be made in defenses and applications to the Constitutional Court and the ECHR.