‘One Cannot be Convicted of Terrorism for Attending Events of a Legal Organization’

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  • November 8, 2019
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Evaluating the application of Urhan, who was convicted of "membership of a terrorist organization," the Constitutional Court has found it unlawful that participating in the activities of a legal organization was a reason for conviction.

Ahmet Urhan's conviction of "membership of a terrorist organization" because of being a member of the Socialist Youth Association (SGD) has been considered as a violation of the freedom of association by the Constitutional Court.

The top court found it inexplicable that the SGD, which is acknowledged as a legal organization, as an "extension of the terrorist organization" by the court.

It was also stated in the decision that the court did not give any evidence or justification to the decision of SGD to be considered illegal only based on a report by the Security Directorate.

The Constitutional Court ruled for a retrial.

Security Directorate's "information note" counted as evidence

The Adana Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against Ahmet Urhan, who was living in Hatay, over "being a member of the Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP)". Turhan was detained on September 21, 2006, and was released after four days of detention.

In the case opened, he was demanded to be convicted for "membership of a terrorist organization." Adana 6th Heavy Penal Court convicted Urhan on February 19, 2008.

In the reasoned decision, Urhan's participation in the activities of the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) and Socialist Youth Association (SGD) was cited as a crime.

"When the organizational documents obtained in the operations conducted throughout the country against the MLKP armed terrorist organization are examined, it is stated that the organization is propagated [...] by means of trade unions, foundations, various newspapers and magazines; the ESP [Socialist Platform of the Oppressed] and the SGD [Socialist Youth Association] are operating as an extension of the MLKP terrorist organization; these organizations organized activities on May 1 Workers' Day, hung banners, shouted slogans in favor of members of the organization and those who died in clashes, organized funerals, and carried out these actions under the umbrella of SGD and ESP..."

The information note of the General Directorate of Security was shown as evidence for this opinion.

Court: SGD and ESP are "sub-sections" of MLKP

The court ruling said the defendants were proven guilty when Article 2/2 of No 3713 Anti-Terror Law taken into account:

"It is stated that that the defendants commute to these organizations and are members of them, participate in their rallies, shout slogans and carry banners in favor of the MLKP organization so that the defendants are members of the SGD and ESP, which are sub-sections of the MLKP..."

"Meeting of a legal organization cited as a crime"

After the verdict was upheld by the Court of Cassation 9th Penal Chamber, Urhan made an individual application to the Constitutional Court.

In his application, he stated that "his relation to an organization established in accordance with the law and continuing its activities under the law and his participation in a meeting organized in accordance with the law was used as evidence in the conviction of membership of a terrorist organization."

In the reasoned decision of the Constitutional Court that was published today, it was stated that "the use of activities within the scope of constitutional rights and freedoms as evidence of the conviction verdicts of being a member of the terrorist organization" would have an intimidating effect on fundamental rights:

"In order for a person to be convicted only because he is a member of a terrorist organization without committing any other offense, the judicial authorities must reveal his ties with the terrorist organization."

"There is no evidence or reasoning in the court ruling"

Emphasizing that the Adana 6th Heavy Penal Court both acknowledged that the SGD is a legal organization and called it "an extension of the terrorist organization," the Constitutional Court stated that the court "did not make a satisfactory explanation on how it is possible within the laws that an organization can both operate under the law and be an extension of the terrorist organization and its decision is not reasoned."

In addition, the top court said that the heavy penal court "stated that the MLKP is involved in many illegal activities under the name of the SGD" but did not provide evidence for this.

The Constitutional Court also said the allegation that Urhan's presence in the SGD also means he accepted to be involved in the terrorist organization is not "convincing."

Deciding that the Urhan's freedom of association, which is regulated in Article 33 of the Constitution, was violated, the Constitutional Court ruled that the file be sent to the Hatay 2nd Heavy Penal Court for retrial in order to eliminate the consequences of the violation.

Source: English Bianet