ECtHR finds no public officials at fault in 2015 Ankara bombings

People hold a banner showing photos of the suicide attack victims during a demonstration held to mark the seventh anniversary of the 2015 twin suicide bombings, in Ankara on October 10, 2022. - On October 10, 2015, over a hundred people were killed in twin explosions in Turkey's capital Ankara, targeting activists gathering for a peace rally organised by leftist and pro-Kurdish opposition groups. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

In a development likely to cause great disappointment among families of the victims of Turkey’s deadliest terrorist attack, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that Turkey’s public authorities were not in violation of their obligations at the time of twin bombings in Ankara in 2015, Turkish Minute reported.

The bombings on October 10, 2015 at the Ankara train station took place near the central terminal as people from mainly leftist and pro-Kurdish groups gathered to stage a demonstration demanding peace and an end to an ongoing conflict between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government. A total of 103 people were killed, while more than 500 were injured in the attacks blamed on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levent (ISIL).

During the years-long trial of ISIL-linked defendants, the families, who have demanded to know if the attack could have been prevented by the authorities, criticized the non-inclusion of any public official in the trial whose negligence might have played a role in the perpetration of the attack.

Human rights activist Selçuk Coşkun, who was among the injured demonstrators, suffering multiple abrasions on his arms and legs, filed an application at the ECtHR, claiming that Turkish authorities violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concerns the right to life, by not taking the necessary measures to prevent the bombings.

However, the Strasbourg-based court, which announced its ruling on Tuesday, unanimously found Turkish authorities to have not been in violation of Article 2, saying that, in the absence of a specific, concrete and imminent threat to the lives of those due to take part in a demonstration on October 10, 2015, the authorities had taken reasonable precautions necessary to ensure the safety of persons and property.

“The Turkish authorities had therefore not been in breach of their substantive obligations under Article 2 of the Convention,” said the court.

Considering the fact that Selçuk was awarded TL 15,000, the equivalent of 3,875 euros, by an administrative court in Ankara at the time in compensation for the non-pecuniary damage he had sustained due to the attack, the ECtHR said the redress afforded him could be regarded as adequate and sufficient in the circumstances of the case.

The final hearing in a retrial of the 10 defendants due to their role in the Ankara bombings was held at a high criminal court in Ankara on July 1.

The court handed down 101 consecutive aggravated life sentences on conviction of murder and 379 consecutive 18-year prison sentences on charges of attempted murder to each of the 10 defendants.

None of the defendants was convicted of committing crimes against humanity despite expectations from the victims’ families and lawyers.

Almost nine years since the attack, none of the public officials who were found in a report drafted by the Interior Ministry to bear some responsibility for the attack have been put on trial.

The report revealed on Feb. 25, 2016 that some public officials bore some responsibility for the incident. According to the report, leaked to the media, intelligence that ISIL might stage an attack on gatherings by leftist and Kurdish groups in Ankara and other cities had been conveyed to the police. Moreover, the names of the train station bombers had also been mentioned several times in these intelligence notices.

The Ankara bombings took place in the period between June and November 2015, historically the most critical timeframe of the Turkish Republic that saw a series of terrorist attacks.

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