Turkey’s top court orders gov’t to pay damages to complainant accused of Gülen ties

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of an applicant who claimed he had suffered torture and inhumane treatment during his detention on charges of membership in the Gülen movement in 2016 and ordered prosecutors to reinvestigate the allegations, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Gazete Duvar news website.

Eyüp Keser, a civil servant at the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), was detained in December 2016 on suspicion of membership in the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen that the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016 and designates as a “terrorist” organization. The movement denies involvement in the coup or any terrorist activity.

Keser claimed he was tortured during his detention, and he and his wife filed complaints in 2017, but the prosecutor’s office decided not to pursue the case, citing a lack of evidence.

In its ruling the Constitutional Court ordered the Turkish government to pay Keser TL 150,000 ($7,156) in non-pecuniary damages and to launch an investigation into the alleged perpetrators.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 24,706 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in July that there were currently 19,252 people in Turkey’s prisons who were convicted or jailed on alleged links to the movement.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

After the abortive putsch in 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish prisons and detention centers. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.

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