Turan Canpolat is a member of the Malatya (Turkey) Bar Association. He is fifty years old and had practiced law for 21 years when he was unlawfully arrested on 27th January, 2016.
On the morning of 27th January, 2016, Turan Canpolat received a phone call from one of his clients who told him that the police were at his residence to execute a search and arrest warrant. His client asked for his services, and, answering his client’s call, Adv. Canpolat drove to his client’s house without delay. Following the search, and before the police left his client’s house, he entered all of the irregularities he had witnessed during the search into the official search record which he, and the police, signed together. The police, before taking his client to the police station, told Adv. Canpolat that he would be informed of the date and time of his client’s interview in good time. However, on his way back to his office, he received a phone call from the police inviting him to the station.
Thinking that it would concern his client, he drove to the police station. After making him wait in reception for two hours, he was told that he was also under arrest.
The reason for his arrest was a statement from a man (M.T.) who, sometime previously, had come to his office and assigned Mr Canpolat as his lawyer, with a complaint that the police were compelling him to be an informant and to give (fabricated) incriminating statements against targeted people.
Mr Canpolat says that M.T. is his client, and their conversations were privileged. In order to prevent the invocation of the lawyer – client privilege, the police, unbeknownst to him, took his client to a nearby notary’s office to have Adv. Canpolat dismissed as (his) lawyer. What is worse, is that the police themselves paid the notary’s fees for the procedure of dismissal. (this was captured by the notary’s security cameras).
After clearing the hurdle of lawyer – client privilege, there were still difficulties in framing Mr Canpolat. As the names and the total number of persons to be arrested are entered into the UYAP (National Intranet of the Judiciary) System while utilizing the search and arrest warrant, by also arresting Mr Canpolat, there would be controversial issues in the official records. One of the suspects, named as M.C in the initial (official) warrant, was thus removed, and Adv. Canpolat was instead included in the warrant as a suspect.
As even the police officers were stunned by such a flagrant forgery, they refused to sign the doctored document, but the public prosecutor in charge of the plot signed it, with full knowledge of the forgery. Despite Adv. Canpolat bringing up this issue during his trial, the trial court chose not to do anything about it.
Mr Canpolat was remanded on pretrial detention on the 30th January, 2016, by the Malatya Magistrate Court. However, M.T.’s statement was not incriminating and was insufficient for an indictment to be issued. The prosecutor obtained a new statement from M.T. 12 days after Mr Canpolat’s detention. In this new statement, dated 12th February, 2016, M.T. told the authorities that Mr Canpolat was the “imam” (the person responsible) for 3 clerks who worked at the Malatya Courthouse. Although, Mr Canpolat and the 3 clerks have been accused of forming a terror cell, the three clerks were tried in a separate case, even though Mr Canpolat requested that he be tried together with his alleged accomplices. Eventually, all three of the clerks who are Mr Canpolat’s alleged accomplices, were acquitted of all charges. This meant that Mr Canpolat’s detention was left without grounds.
Then, despite being in prison during the coup attempt of 15th July, 2016, he was charged with taking part in it, charges which were subsequently dropped.
During the trial, in a hearing held in the Malatya Heavy Penal Court, M.T. refuted his incriminating statement against Mr Canpolat, saying that none of the words in the statement were his, and he added that the police wrote it and made him sign it.
However, M.T.’s refuting of the only evidence against him did not secure Mr Canpolat’s acquittal. He was convicted of representing some of the companies which have been shut down by emergency decree laws and for allegedly downloading and using ByLock Messenger (an encrypted communication app which was downloadable from the app stores of Google and Apple. The UN HRC and WGAD concluded that imprisonment on grounds of downloading or using ByLock was unlawful.) although neither of these grounds were presented as accusations in the indictment. He was sentenced to ten years under Turkey’s anti-terror provisions.
Adv. Canpolat has been in prison for 50 months and he has been in solitary confinement. His appeal is still to be considered by the Court of Cassation after 14 months. During the course of the last 14 months, he has made 14 separate applications requesting his release. However, all have been left unanswered. On the other hand, his brother, also a lawyer, was convicted of similar offenses and given a sentence of 9 years imprisonment.
TAKE ACTION: We plead you to send to following authorities a letter which urges his appeal to be considered in earliest convenience and in line with the judgments of the ECtHR, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN WGAD and his solitary confinement to be ended.
- Mr Abdulhamit Gül, the Minister of Justice, email: email@example.com
- Mr Yılmaz Çiftçi, General Director of Prisons and Detention Houses, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Justice Eyup Yesil, chief judge of the Court of Cassation’s 16th Chamber, email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
To see letter of Mr Canpolat click here.
Categories: International Advocacy