Osman Bayrak Başvurusu
Osman Bayrak, Application No: 2013/3803, 25 February 2015
A criminal investigation took place on the grounds that the applicant had used forged documents to bring his car through customs, two lawsuits were filed against the applicant and his car was confiscated. For the crime of smuggling, the applicant was acquitted from all charges due to lack of evidence. The other defendants were convicted for forgery but the announcement of the verdict was deferred. Upon the appeal of the decision, charges on smuggling were dropped due to statute of limitations, yet the criminal court decided for a seizure of property for the applicant’s car. The applicant alleged that, although the sentence was not final, his property was seized, and that his right to property, the presumption of innocence and right to fair trial were breached.
B) Judgment and Reasoning of the Court
The Court noted that the applicant had acquired this car and registered it under his name in the Traffic Registry; hence the car would be considered his property. There was an interference with his right to property but this interference was inscribed by law, and pursued the legitimate aim of combatting smuggling and preventing the import of prohibited goods. In doing the proportionality test, the Court underlined that the applicant could bring a civil case against the seller of the car, who was convicted of forgery, or against the administrative authorities if he believed they had been negligent. In this regard, the Court ruled that the seizure of his property was not disproportionate or unreasonable, hence his right to property was not violated.
C) The Significance of the Judgement
Many of the decisions before the Court concern land property and expropriation, but Osman Bayrak was amongst the first decisions that concerned right to property and decision on confiscation of property in criminal proceedings. The decision lays out, in the proportionality test, how the court balances public interest and the individual right to property in the context of confiscation of property. The decision also points out to other available remedies for the applicant, such as cases before civil or administrative courts, but does not clarify why these remedies were not considered necessary to be exhausted before applying to the Constitutional Court. This view was also expressed in the dissenting opinion by Celal Mümtaz Akıncı.