More than 5,000 Turks file cases at European court over purge

Strasbourg (France) (AFP) – More than 5,300 Turks have filed complaints before the European Court of Human Rights over their government’s purge following a failed coup last July, the president of the court said Thursday.

The 5,363 cases filed by Turkish nationals in connection with the post-putsch crackdown constituted over 10 percent of all the claims filed before the court in 2016, Guido Raimondi told reporters in Strasbourg, where the court is based.

Another 2,945 cases also filed by Turks last year, but not in connection with the coup purge, brought the total number of complaints from the nation to over 8,308. That figure was four times higher than in 2015.

Turkish authorities have suspended or sacked over 100,000 people in a crackdown on those with alleged links to coup plotters in the aftermath of the bid to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 15.

Last week Erdogan said some 43,000 people had been arrested over suspected links to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whose followers the authorities have blamed for the coup.

But the arrests have seen not just military officers targeted, but also journalists, academics, activists and others.

Relations between the EU and the NATO member state have soured in the past year over human rights and freedom of speech issues.

Only now are the first trials in relation to the coup getting under way in the biggest legal process in the country’s history.

A court in the eastern city of Erzurum on January 5 sentenced two army officers to life in jail over their roles in the failed coup, the first verdicts to be handed out.

Raimondi on Thursday urged plaintiffs to take their cases before their national tribunals before resorting to the European Court of Human Rights.

“It is good to let the Turkish authorities do their job,” the Italian magistrate said.

Should the Turkish constitutional court block the claims, there is a risk the European court will become “submerged by tens of thousands of cases”, he added.

Raimondi meanwhile described Ankara’s decision to set up a special committee to hear complaints connected to the state of emergency as “very encouraging”.

UA-57178893-1