A.C. ve Diğerleri Başvurusu

A.C. ve Diğerleri Başvurusu

A.C. and Others, Application No: 2013/1827, 25 February 2016

A) Facts

The applicants were arrested on 25 January 2000 for the offence of being a member of an armed terrorist organization and released in the same year. The criminal action was commenced on 27 March 2000 and a conviction was reached by the first instance court on 13 January 2011. The applicants were notified of the final judgment, which was upheld on 20 December 2012, on 28 February 2013 and made their applications on 1 March 2013.

They claim that during the lengthy proceedings the legally permitted detention time was exceeded, prohibited interrogation methods were used, unlawfully obtained evidence was taken as the basis for conviction, being members of religious groups does not constitute as a criminal offence and Articles 17, 19, 24, 36, 37, 38 and 141 of the Constitution have been violated.

B) Judgment and Reasoning of the Court

The Constitutional Court examined the application within the scope of right to liberty, prohibition of torture and right to a fair trial.

Before proceeding with the substantive examination, it considered whether the application was timely filed. Stating that the 30-day application period, which is one of the pre-conditions to ensure legal certainty, the Court remarked that application to legal remedies being conditioned upon a time period does not violate right to have a legal remedy so long as they do not render access to courts impossible. Despite the fact that the legal period for individual application starts when the applicant becomes aware of the reasoning of the final judgment, there may be cases where the applicant becomes aware the outcome of the final judgment but has no access to its reasoning. The Court, after asserting that the period prescribed for application is not to be understood as unlimited even in such a case, expressed its view that the applicant should exercise due diligence to access to the reasoning of the final judgment, and within the scope of this obligation, the Court of Appeal judgments would be accessible by the time they reach to the first instance court and the applicant should be deemed to become aware of the reasoning of the final judgment three months after such date. The 30-day condition should be started at the end of the mentioned three months at the latest. Therefore, in the present case, the applicants have deemed to satisfy the time requirement.

The complaints regarding right to liberty were found inadmissible due to lack of jurisdiction ratione temporis, because the act allegedly constituting a violation took place before the year of 2000. The complaints concerning proceedings in relation to the prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment being unfair in terms of the outcome and in relation to right to fair trail unlawful evidence being relied on were described as manifestly ill-founded.

The Constitutional Court found the claims of violation in relation to the complaint that proceedings were not completed in a reasonable time period as justified. Remarking that the right to a trial in a reasonable period of time is being protected within the scope of Article 36 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the ECHR, the Constitutional Court stated that Article 141 of the Constitution requiring proceedings be concluded as swiftly as possible is also to be considered in the light of entirety of the Constitution. The starting point of the time period to be considered in this regard is notification to the person of the claim that s/he committed a

criminal offence, while the ending point is the date on which a final judgment is made on the criminal charge. Regard should be had to factors such as the complexity of the case, number of suspects and the number of instances within the scope of the proceedings. In the present case, 13 years between the applicants being apprehended and the final judgment is considered as unreasonable by the Court and it was found that the right to a fair trial protected under Article 36 of the Constitution was violated.

C) Significance of the Judgment

Under the scope of the A.C. application, the Constitutional Court determines the duty of diligence in relation to the requirement of time. In the event that the remedies forming the subject matter of the violation are exhausted by a judgment of the Court of Appeal, it was set forth for the first time that three months is given to be aware of the reasoning of the Court of Appeal judgment even if the Court of Appeal judgments are not notified to parties.