Turkey’s detention of highest court judge unlawful - ECHR

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday ruled that the detention of a Turkish Constitutional Court judge following the country’s 2016 coup attempt was unlawful.

Alparslan Altan was detained on July 16, 2016, a day after the failed putsch, and was arrested by an Ankara court four days later. The judge remained in pre-trial detention until January 2018, when he was indicted. A prosecutor demanded an 11 year and three month prison sentence for Altan over links to the Gülen movement, which Ankara designates a terrorist organisation and accuses of orchestrating the failed coup attempt.

Altan applied to the Constitutional Court in September 2016 claiming unjust confinement in pre-trial detention. The high court in January last year found his incarceration justified.

The ECHR’s Tuesday ruling on Alparslan Altan noted unlawfulness of the initial pre-trial detention, as well as lack of reasonable suspicion for his detention.

The ECHR ordered Turkey to pay Altan 10,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages.

A total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors have been arrested in Turkey following the 2016 failed coup attempt and another 4,424 have been dismissed from their jobs.

Turkey ranks 109th out of 126 countries, according to the World Justice Project’s (WJP) 2019 Rule of Law Index, an international report on the rule of law.