Adnan Oktar case, a high-profile case in Turkey, continues after the Court of Appeal overruled the decision of the 30th High Criminal court, finding it unlawful at nearly 800 points.
In an unexplainable manner, the judge seems to be in an extreme rush and hurries over the procedures with a pace that is now threatening the health of the defendants.
When the trial started, we were informed by the office of the presiding judge that the hearings would be held in the first two weeks of each month and suspended in the last two weeks. As a matter of fact, this has been the practice since the beginning of the hearings.
However, during the hearing on October 11, 2022, we have learned that there will be no recess until the defenses are over.
NOT SUSPENDING THE HEARINGS FOR 15 DAYS AND CONTINUING THE HEARINGS UNTIL LATE EVENING HOURS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS SUFFERING ESPECIALLY IN HEALTH, AS WELL AS PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STRENGTHS OF THE DEFENDANTS.
This is against the right to a fair trial and fair living conditions of the detained defendants who are currently in prison for 4,5 years.
To briefly describe the violation of rights:
– The defendants planned to use the 15-day break to prepare for their defense. The hearings started one week after the opinion on the merits was communicated to them.
– The defendants did not have time to go to the computer room and read the opinion on the merits conveyed to them on the CD. It is impossible for them to prepare a defense without reading the opinion. Only some of the detained defendants were given the right to go to the computer room once, and this period is only 2.5 hours.
“The notion of “facilities” may include such conditions of detention that permit the person to read and write with a reasonable degree of concentration. (Mayzit v. Russia, 2005, § 81; Moiseyev v. Russia, 2008, § 221). It is crucial that both the accused and his defence counsel should be able to participate in the proceedings and make submissions without suffering from excessive tiredness (Barberà, Messegué and Jabardo v. Spain, 1988, § 70; Makhfi v. France, 2004, § 40; Fakailo (Safoka) and Others v. France, 2014, § 50).- ”. (The 6 § 3 (b) article of the ECHR.)
– Since the hearings are over at late hours and there is no break, the defendants do not have the opportunity to meet with their lawyers. Especially in Marmara (Silivri) Prison no. 9, the fact that there are few lawyer visitation rooms and too many detainees, means that the defendants cannot meet their lawyers.
‘The facilities provided to the defendant include the defendants’ meetings with their lawyers. ( ECHR Article 6 § 3 (b), Campbell v. Feli v. United Kingdom, § 99, Gaddi v. Italy, § 31)
– There is not enough time to meet with lawyers on weekends; and since the lawyers are attending the hearings 5 days a week and they have many other clients, therefore they cannot allocate enough time on the weekends.
– Since the defendants return to their wards late at night, they do not have time to prepare and work on their defenses.
– After the hearings that last until late in the evening, the 74 detainees are taken to the prison, and it is already 24:00 for them to enter their wards after the inspections etc.
– Due to the late hour, they have to wait longer for vehicles to arrive from prison.
– Since the ending of the hearings is the same hour with the inspection for attendance in prison, the defendants are made to wait in custody for about 2 hours when they reach the prison before entering their wards.
– After they come to the ward, and meet their needs such as shower and meal and make preparations for the next day, they can only go to bed at around 02:00am at late night and have to wake up at 05:00 in the morning to come to the hearing in the courtroom. In other words, they can only sleep 2-4 hours every day.
– Only lunch and dinner are provided during the hearings, they do not have food with them, and even water is provided in limited quantities. In this case, they have to be content with the food that the prison provides with extremely low nutritional value and insufficient amount.
– Facilities provided during working hours, such as razors, cannot be provided because they cannot be in their wards during working hours.
– The defendants can’t even make phone calls with their families.
– The defendants cannot meet with their lawyers.
– The defendants cannot request referral to infirmary or hospital when they have health problems.
The health of the defendants, who are in the courtroom all day long without being able to meet their needs, with only 2-3 hours of sleep, are at risk, and they have difficulty in keeping their attention during the hearings.
The 6 § 3 (b) article of the European Convention of Human Right refers to “The States’ duty under Article 6 § 3 (b) to ensure the accused’s right to mount a defence in criminal proceedings includes an obligation to organise the proceedings in such a way as not to prejudice the accused’s power to concentrate and apply mental dexterity in defending his position. Where the defendants are detained, the conditions of their detention, transport, catering and other similar arrangements are relevant factors to consider in this respect (Razvozzhayev v. Russia and Ukraine and Udaltsov v. Russia, 2019, § 252).”
Defendants who are on trial with sentences of ten thousand years should be able to make a strong and effective defense. However, this is not possible under these conditions.
Despite the 180-day target time announced beforehand for the entire hearings, it is not clear what the purpose of the court delegation is in advancing so quickly to reach the decision stage in a few weeks, by violating the defense right of the defendants in many ways.
The time pressure on the defendants, the purpose of which is not clear, is gradually increasing. It is obvious that this is a practice that will harm the health of the defendants, make them uneasy, and weaken their power and opportunities to prepare and speak during their defense.
In particular, at a time when the Covid_19 pandemic is still ongoing and both the Covid_19 and seasonal flu epidemics are likely to come back stronger by the season, detained and pending defendants are subjected to severe conditions and their health is endangered.
The court delegation has the opportunity to rest between hearings and to have a healthy and strong diet. However, this is not possible for the detained defendants who are in prison.
The exclusion of the detainees from attending the hearings will not solve the problem. There is no legal or conscientious basis for making the defendants unable to attend the hearing and saying that they do not have to be present in the hearings. The defendants, who are being tried for at least a few hundred years, rightly want to attend the trial regularly, listen to the defenses of other defendants and hear other information and evidence that will strengthen their own defense. Since this is a prosecution for a criminal organization, the criminal charges against each defendant, and therefore their defense, are related and common.
BY THE CURRENT PRACTICE, THE RIGHTS OF THE DEFENDANTS TO ATTEND BOTH THE TRIAL AND TO PREPARE THEIR DEFENSE ARE VIOLATED.
It is obvious that THERE IS URGENT NEED TO PUT AN END TO THE ONGOING VIOLATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE DEFENDANTS TO A FAIR TRIAL AND DEFENSE. Holding the hearings until late hours and not giving a break for 15 days is consequently causing a series of sufferings and grievances that ruin the health of the defendants, break their defense power, and take away their time and energy.