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Academic Altan appeals to ECtHR against Turkey’s top judicial body

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The lawyer for academic and journalist Mehmet Altan, who was imprisoned after a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against Turkey’s Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) for failing to take action against judges who refused to release him despite a ruling by the Turkish Constitutional Court, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the T24 news website.

Lawyer Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu had filed complaints against judges Kemal Selçuk Yalçın, Mehmet Akif Ayaz, Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ and Seval Alaçam with the HSK in 2019 for not implementing the top court’s ruling that Altan’s rights had been violated and that he be released. However, the HSK did not open an investigation into the judges and in fact promoted Dağ.

Çalıkuşu appealed to the ECtHR, saying not only was the Constitutional Court’s ruling violated but the HSK had failed to investigate the judges who were responsible for disregarding the ruling. According to Çalıkışu it is the first time such a complaint against the HSK has been made to the ECtHR.

She pointed out that the HSK had acted against the Turkish Constitution. “They protected four judges who committed constitutional offenses,” Çalıkuşu said.

One of Turkey’s most famous journalists and academics, Altan, was arrested on September 10, 2016, for allegedly attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and interfering with the work of parliament and the government.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 2018, and the decision was upheld by the Istanbul 2nd Regional Court of Justice. The decision was eventually overturned in 2019 by the Supreme Court of Appeals, and he was acquitted for a lack of evidence.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court in January 2018 ruled in favor of Altan, saying his imprisonment was in violation of his rights to personal liberty, security and freedom of expression.

Likewise, the ECtHR ruled on March 20, 2018 that Altan should be released and that his rights to liberty and freedom of expression had been violated. The ECtHR added that the authorities had been unable to demonstrate any factual basis proving that Altan had committed the offenses in question.

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