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Title:Derman v. Turkey
Application No:21789/02
Referred by:
Date of reference by Commission:
Date of reference by State:
Date of Judgment:31-05-2011
Conclusion:Violation of article 3
Compensation awarded

(Press release)
Torture of shopkeeper went unpunished: the case concerned Mr Derman's complaint that the criminal proceedings against the police officers responsible for torturing him had been ineffective as, although found guilty, their sentences had subsequently been suspended on the ground that it was unlikely that they would reoffend.

The applicant is a Turkish national who was born in 1963 and lives in Istanbul. A former shopkeeper, Mr Derman alleged that he had been beaten, blindfolded, stripped naked, hosed with water and subjected to falaka (beating on the soles of the feet) when held in police custody in January 1999 on suspicion of robbery. Just before and after his release he underwent three medical examinations which reported bruising to his shoulders, waist and navel as well as psychological trauma. In December 2001 the domestic courts found that the three accused police officers had ill-treated Mr Derman in order to extract a confession from him. Their initial sentence of one year's imprisonment and a ban from public service for three months was subsequently reduced to ten months' imprisonment. Their sentences were ultimately suspended under Section 6 of Law No. 647 as the courts found that it was unlikely that they would reoffend. A subsequent compensation claim brought by Mr Derman was rejected by the Supreme Administrative Court in January 2008. Mr Derman is still apparently being treated for psychological problems on account of the ill-treatment he suffered in 1999.

Relying on Article 3 of the Convention, Mr Derman complained that he had been tortured in police custody and that the ensuing criminal proceedings against the police officers responsible had been ineffective.

Article 3
Prohibition of torture:
Given the domestic courts' decision of December 2001 in which it had found the police officers guilty as charged, the Court found it established that the applicant had been ill-treated during police custody as alleged.

The Court recalled that, where a credible assertion had been made of torture and/or inhuman and degrading treatment, there should be an effective official investigation whereby those responsible were identified and held to account. Under no circumstances should the domestic authorities be prepared to let physical or psychological suffering go unpunished.

However, the way in which domestic law had been applied in Mr Derman's case had effectively rendered the police officers' convictions ineffective. Instead of showing that torture could in no way be tolerated, the judges had exercised their discretion to minimise its consequences. Far from being rigorous, the Turkish criminal as applied in this case had not been sufficiently dissuasive. The Court therefore held that there had been a violation of Article 3.

Article 41
The Court held that Turkey was to pay Mr Derman 42,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage and EUR 1,000 for costs and expenses.

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Last Modified: 13-01-2014 16:18:19 (Documentation SIM)