ECHR verdict on teacher's case sparks debate among lawyers

ECHR verdict on teacher's case sparks debate among lawyers
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The recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling concerning teacher Yuksel Yalcinkaya's conviction has ignited discussions about its implications and Turkey's legal system.

by Ogulcan Ozgenc

In a groundbreaking move, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a verdict citing violations with teacher Yuksel Yalcinkaya, who faced charges linked to "using ByLock" and "holding an account at Bank Asya."

Lawyer Dogan Erkan, emphasizing the binding nature of the decision as per Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), reminded that Article 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC) stipulates retrials. "Given the ECHR's violation ruling against final judgments, there's a cause for retrial. The trial will inevitably need to be revisited," Erkan said. He criticized the use of ByLock program evidence and the demonization of Bank Asya, stating such approaches are antithetical to the principle of legality of crimes and punishments.

Erkan further mentioned the risk of false accusations, urging a focused pursuit of actual perpetrators, which could point to political power.

Erinc Sagkan, President of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB), highlighted that the ECHR rarely assesses evidence evaluation. However, where there's "evidence arbitrariness" or a "clear court error", exceptions are made. He remarked that the court considered the conviction based on ByLock evidence arbitrary, thus violating the convention's right to a fair trial and the principle of legality.

Warning of the economic implications, Sagkan said the decision's impact could be monumental considering the thousands of similar pending files, which could cause a staggering 1.5 billion Euros in compensation.

Responding to the Justice Minister's remarks on the ECHR's overreach, Administrative Lawyer Prof. Dr. Metin Gunday stated, "The ECHR merely reaffirmed foundational legal principles. It's a pity that the Turkish judiciary hasn't adhered to them."

Yuksel Yalcinkaya, a teacher, approached the ECHR individually, asserting that his conviction, based on using ByLock, having an account at Bank Asya, and being associated with an illegal organization, violated human rights. He argued that an anonymous witness's testimony influenced his conviction and that the courts lacked independence and impartiality, violating Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.