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European court rejects claim by Turkish judge

November 17, 2016

The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed the first case to reach it over Ankara's crackdown following a failed coup in July. The applicant, a young Turkish judge, complained over her treatment in detention.

Europaeischer Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte Strassburg
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/w.Rothermel

The Strasbourg-based judges decided on Thursday that the claimant, 30-year-old Zeynep Mercan, failed to exhaust all legal instances in Turkey before addressing the tribunal. Specifically, the Turkish judge needed to appeal to Turkey's Constitutional Court.

However, Mercan argued that the Turkish court was no longer capable of unbiased judgment after the crackdown. Authorities arrested two members of the body in the continuing purge, alongside with 30,000 other judges and prosecutors.

Before the coup attempt, Mercan served as a judge in the town of Giresun on Turkey's Black Sea coast. She was arrested only days after the violence in July and accused of links to  the movement of Fetullah Gulen. Her appeal against the arrest was rejected by a Turkish court.

The defendant then addressed the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), complaining that her right to a fair trial and protection from inhuman or degrading treatment have been breached.

Fair trial complaint 'premature'

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In its decision, the Strasbourg tribunal said it would stay with the current practice of only accepting cases after all legal outlets have been exhausted at the national level. Also, the court noted that "Ms. Mercan fears as to the impartiality of the Constitutional Court judges did not in themselves relieve her of the obligation to lodge an application before that court." The human rights court dismissed her complaint about the right to fair trial as premature.

This is the first case to be considered in Strasbourg after the Turkish crackdown. The court has so far registered over 3,000 complaints over the issue, and this number is expected to rise. Following the failed coup, there has been a widescale crackdown in Turkey on any officials, politicians, police, military, academicsand journalists, among others, thought to have ties to the Gulen movement. 

dj/sms (dpa, AFP)