EU following ‘worrying’ reports of uniforms for coup suspects in Turkey

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The Turkish national flag (L) and the EU flag (AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER )

A European Union spokesperson on Tuesday said reports of a plan for suspects standing trial on coup charges in Turkey to wear identical uniforms were worrying.

Underlining the significance of respect for the right to a fair trial and a commitment to a state of law, the EU spokesperson said: “The European Union has on many occasions stressed that any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process and that the right of every individual to a fair trial needs to be respected, as well as the principle of the presumption of innocence.”

“You will soon see them [jailed people allegedly linked to the Gülen movement] in identical uniforms. Our judiciary will make decisions [about them] by the end of this year,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said recently during a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting in İstanbul.

Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ said on Aug. 15 that the matter of identical uniforms can only be enforced by a law or government decree and that he expects that it will be included in an upcoming decree.

After noncommissioned officer Gökhan Güçlü, one of the suspects on trial for an assassination attempt against President Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, was thrown out of the courtroom on July 13 for wearing a T-shirt bearing the word “hero” on it, Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 31 that all suspects in ongoing failed coup trials were going to wear identical brown uniforms during court hearings.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Ahmet Yıldırım said on Aug. 17 that the government made Güçlü wear the hero T-shirt in order to impose identical uniforms on inmates.

Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said that if a proposed government regulation on uniforms for coup suspects were adopted, nearly 50,000 uniforms would be sewn by inmates and then sent to prisons holding suspects in cases involving followers of the Gülen movement.

Speaking on the issue in July, President Erdoğan said: “We recently spoke to Mr. Prime Minister. They should wear uniforms like they do at Guantanamo [prison] when going to court.”

Former European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judge Rıza Türmen said obliging all suspects in ongoing trials concerning the failed coup to wear identical uniforms is against human rights and violates the right to a fair trial.

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