Top European court says Turkey violated rights of judge arrested over Gülen links

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This photo shows an exterior view of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg on January 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) said on Tuesday that Turkey violated the rights of a judge who was put in pretrial detention for 14 months on charges of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt despite its strong denial of any involvement.

The court said Turkey committed three violations of the European Convention on Human Rights: unlawfully depriving the judge of his right to liberty; holding him without a reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense; and denying him the right to challenge his detention in court.

It ordered Turkey to pay the judge, Hakan Baş, who was arrested in July 2016, 6,000 euros ($6,700) in damages plus 4,000 euros in costs and expenses, according to AFP.

“The evidence … did not warrant the conclusion that there had been a reasonable suspicion against the applicant at the time of his initial detention,” the court said.

Under a state of emergency, Turkey suspended 2,735 judges and prosecutors that month, including Baş, citing a strong suspicion that they were linked to the alleged coup plotters.

Baş was put in pretrial detention four days later and made his first court appearance on Sept. 19 of the following year, after his trial had started.

He was found guilty in March 2018 of membership in a terrorist organization.

Baş was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison but was released considering the time he had already spent in detention awaiting trial.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested over suspected ties to the Gülen movement since the failed 2016 coup, and more than 100,000 people have been sacked or suspended from public-sector jobs.

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