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Turkey’s top appeals court delivers landmark judgment against arbitrary denial of parole

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has delivered a landmark decision that found unlawful a prison board’s refusal to grant early release on the basis of the charges faced by the prisoner at trial, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing human rights lawyer Nurullah Albayrak.

“[The court] said it was contrary to law to deny parole based on information obtained from the convict’s court file,” Albayrak announced on social media.

The judgment concerned a prisoner incarcerated in the province of Manisa who was denied parole by a prison board that justified its decision by citing the criminal charges leveled against the prisoner during his trial.

The prisoner in question was an individual convicted of links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based civil society group accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in July 2016. The movement denies any involvement.

While Turkish law allows for the early release of convicts who have served a designated portion of their sentences, prison boards have recently been given increased discretionary powers in granting or refusing this early release.

In the last few years many reports have revealed denial of parole to political prisoners, particularly those imprisoned over Gülen links or pro-Kurdish political engagement, on arbitrary grounds such as “failure to display remorse.”

Human rights advocates have accused prison boards of acting like courts.

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