18 July 2018 Wednesday

Umut Tamaç (no. 2014/13514, 18 July 2018)

The Facts

A police officer on duty came across the applicant outside the police station.

The officer asked the applicant to go to the police station with him, as certain legal documents were to be delivered to the applicant. Upon this, an argument broke out between the applicant and the police officer, and the applicant sustained a life-threatening injury by a bullet fired from the police officer’s gun.

Following an investigation launched by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, a criminal case was initiated before the Assize Court against the police officer and the applicant.

The Assize Court sentenced the police officer to 6 months and 20 days’ imprisonment for reckless injury and suspended pronouncement of the judgment. The applicant’s appeal to this decision was rejected by the Assize Court.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant claimed that his right to a fair trial was violated on the ground that the police officer who had injured him was convicted not for attempted murder but reckless injury. He also maintained that his right to life was violated due to suspension of pronouncement of the judgment.

The Court’s Assessment

The applicant’s all claims were examined within the scope of the right to life safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution.

The procedural positive obligations incumbent on the State requires an independent investigation capable of clarifying the incident resulting in death and leading to the identification of those responsible.

In the present case, the Assize Court held that in the incident where the applicant sustained a life-threatening injury the gun had not been fired intentionally but accidentally. There existed no information or document which indicated that the police officer had had a specific reason to kill or injure the applicant.

As acknowledged by the Assize Court and stated by the majority of witnesses, the applicant had continued his aggressive behaviours during the incident. The police officer had had to use force and firearm, as the applicant had pulled a knife and behaved aggressively. Therefore, it must be accepted that the police officer had resorted to use of force in order to defend himself.

In order for the Constitutional Court to reach a different conclusion than the investigation authorities and courts, there must be convincing reasons to that end. The Constitutional Court concluded that there was no convincing reason in the present case to depart from the ruling of the Assize Court which evaluated, at first hand, the evidence obtained during the investigation and proceedings.

In addition, it cannot be said that the decision on suspension of pronouncement of the judgment had contradicted the available evidence or had been clearly unlawful.

Furthermore, considering that statements of many witnesses and other necessary actions had been taken in order to find out the facts regarding the incident, it has been concluded that the length of the proceedings which lasted approximately 4 years and 3 months was reasonable.

Consequently, the Constitutional Court found no violation of the applicant’s right to life safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution.