The Turkish Constitutional Court established that Turkish lawyer Gürsu Avcı was tortured in a police station where he went to provide legal counsel with three suspects. (Gürsu Avcı, B. No: 2017/20159, 13/4/2021)
On 19.07.2016, Mr Avcı, who was assigned by İstanbul Bar Association to provide legal counsel with three suspects, arrived at the police headquarters in Gaziosmanpasa, Istanbul to visit his clients. He produced his lawyer’s ID card and asked to be let to see his clients. However, he was unlawfully denied entry. He then said he wanted to be present in the medical examination of his clients which was unusually to take place in the office of the police chief for some security concerns. Then he had to shout his advice to his clients who were being taken for examination that they had to show their injuries to the doctors when being examined. Angered by Mr Avcı’s efforts to reach out to his clients, police officer, identified only as M.S, started to swear at him before forcibly taking him to an empty room which was being used as a kitchen and physically assaulted him with the help of some other police officers and handcuffed Mr Avcı behind his back.
His clients confirmed the altercation and said that they saw Mr Avcı being taken away and heard him scream in pain. The security camera recordings showed him being led into a room where there were no security cameras.
As a result, Mr Avcı sustained bruises to his arms, legs and neck and bleeding in the nose which was confirmed in a doctor’s report.
A criminal investigation conducted by the Office of the chief public prosecutor upon Mr Avcı’s complaint found no wrongdoing in the part of the police officers as “Mr Avcı’s allegations could not be proved by camera recordings and his injuries were only superficial and consistent with lawful use of force”. On the other hand, Mr Avcı was charged with resisting a police officer and he was subsequently fined by the 31st Assize Court which was later overturned on appeal.
Mr Avcı, on 05.05.2017, made an “individual application’ to the Turkish Constitutional Court claiming that he had been subjected to treatment incompatible with human dignity through verbal and physical assaults of police officers and that the investigation conducted in that regard was ineffective.
The Constitutional Court found that although the assault was not such that would cause extensive physical and mental anguish, thus amounted to torture or ill-treatment, it nevertheless constituted “treatment incompatible with human dignity” and referred the case back to the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor for a new investigation.
According to a report by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, since 2016’s coup attempt there is a relentless against lawyers in Turkey. The report established that more than 1600 lawyers have been arrested and prosecuted while 615 lawyers have been remanded to pretrial detention. So far, 450 lawyers have been sentenced to a total of 2786 years in prison on the grounds of membership of an armed terrorism organization or of spreading terrorist propaganda.
Categories: Torture and Impunity