The Turkish Constitutional Court reached a decision regarding the impact of ‘secret witnesses’ on court cases, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Thursday.
‘Secret witnesses’ whose identities are not disclosed by judicial authorities, allegedly due to security reasons, have become a key factor of the indictments and convictions in virtually all political trials in Turkey and are reportedly used not to find out the truth but as a means of manufacturing evidence for administering punishment.
While the Constitutional Court’s First Section recently ruled that the rights of an applicant were violated in the case of his arrest in 2020 over a statement by a secret witness, the Section also decided that an arrest order could, in fact, be issued solely over a secret witness statement if the statement involves ‘solid facts’.
The ruling said that in the case of Rıza Barut, who’d been arrested in 2020 as he was serving as an elected member of the municipal council in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority district of Eğil (Gêl), the secret witness statement was speculative, did not involve specific information about any action, place, date and individuals, and so was not inspectable by the judiciary. The ruling concluded that Barut’s arrest over that witness statement was therefore unlawful.
However, the ruling continued to say that a secret witness statement could be evaluated as a strong indicator concerning legal grounds for an arrest in cases in which the validity of the statement could be inspected by the judiciary and by the suspect or accused.’
The ruling added that the statement should, accordingly, involve ‘specific information about actions, places, dates and individuals’ so that it is inspectable.