EGMR: Forthcoming judgment on Tuesday 7 June 2016 – Enver Aydemir v. Turkey (no. 26012/11)

The applicant, Enver Aydemir, is a Turkish national who was born in 1977 and lives in Istanbul (Turkey). The case concerns Mr Aydemir’s refusal to perform military service because of his religious beliefs; it also concerns the proceedings subsequently brought against him and his allegations of ill-treatment on account of his refusal.

In 2007 Mr Aydemir declared himself to be a conscientious objector and refused to perform his military service. On 24 July 2007 he was taken by force to the Bilecik gendarmerie station, where he refused to don military uniform and obey orders from his superior. On 31 July 2007 he was taken into pre-trial detention. On 3 August 2007 and 25 September 2007 two sets of criminal proceedings were instituted against him for persistent disobedience.

On 25 September 2007 Mr Aydemir was provisionally released but did not return to his regiment, thus becoming a deserter. On 24 December 2009 he was arrested and transferred to Maltepe military prison after the military court had ordered his pre-trial detention. According to Mr Aydemir, he was beaten by the prison warders and was also forced to undress and spend the night uncovered and unclothed. On 25 December 2009 he was allegedly forced by five or six soldiers to wear military uniform and was subjected to various forms of ill-treatment when he refused to comply. On 30 December 2009 Mr Aydemir appeared before the Eskişehir Military Court, where he reiterated his refusal to perform military service and again declared himself to be a conscientious objector. On 2 August 2011 he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment for persistent disobedience, but the court decided to suspend the delivery of the judgment.

On 15 February 2010 a third set of criminal proceedings was instituted against him for desertion, committed between 6 October 2007 and 24 December 2009. On 5 July 2013 he was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment for desertion, but his sentence was commuted to a fine. An appeal on points of law by Mr Aydemir is currently pending before the Military Court of Cassation.

On 7 June 2010 the Ankara Military Hospital diagnosed Mr Aydemir as having an “antisocial personality disorder” and declared him unfit for military service with effect from 30 March 2010. On 8 October 2010 the Military Court acquitted him of persistent disobedience following two further refusals.

In the meantime, on 28 December 2009 Mr Aydemir had filed a criminal complaint on account of the ill-treatment allegedly inflicted on him on 24 and 25 December 2009. Medical examinations revealed the presence of healed wounds on his body. A sergeant and the prison governor were charged with having punched and kicked Mr Aydemir on 24 and 25 December 2009, but the public prosecutor’s office ruled that there was no case to answer as regards the allegations that he had been forced to spend the night unclothed and uncovered. The case is currently pending before the Istanbul Criminal Court.

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment), Mr Aydemir complains that he was repeatedly prosecuted and convicted because of his refusal to wear military uniform, and that he was subjected to various forms of torture while in detention; he also complains that the investigation into his allegations was deficient. In addition, relying on Article 9 (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Mr Aydemir complains that he was repeatedly detained, prosecuted and convicted because he had claimed the status of conscientious objector.

Press release ECHR 176 (2016) 02/06/2016

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