ECtHR rejects application for political prisoner without hands

Political prisoner Ergin Aktaş has been certified five times that he cannot remain in custody. Nevertheless he is to serve a life sentence in isolation. In the opinion of the ECHR this is justified.

Political prisoner Ergin Aktaş has failed with a complaint against his imprisonment before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The Strasbourg judges decided that his continued detention in prison is justified.

Ergin Aktaş lost both hands in 2011 when a bomb exploded during a demonstration in the Northern Kurdistan province of Ağrı. He was arrested and sentenced to an aggravated life sentence plus another 28 years for alleged "membership in a terrorist organisation". The Turkish justice accuses him of being responsible for the explosion despite the fact that there is still no proof of this.

At the moment Aktaş is in the Metris R-Type prison in Istanbul, most of the time in solitary confinement. It is a closed prison for women, men and children with physical or mental disabilities. The Istanbul Forensic Medical Institute has certified Aktaş, who suffers from a number of serious illnesses as well as the respiratory disease COPD, five times so far that he cannot remain in detention. Several times, his lawyers made attempts to get him released from prison. But time and again, the release of the political prisoner is classified as "dangerous" and corresponding applications with reference to sentences are rejected.

His lawyer Gülizar Tuncer had brought an action against it before the ECtHR. She argued that the maintenance of her client's imprisonment constituted torture and degrading and inhuman treatment. The ECtHR did not accept this argumentation. Instead, it accepted the justification of the Turkish government, which sees the country in danger by releasing Aktaş.

Lawyer Tuncer called the judgement of the ECtHR a disgrace and stated that the decision was made without respect for human rights and the right to life. "The full attention of the Strasbourg judges was apparently exclusively focused on the euphemisms of the Turkish state regarding the equipment of the R-Type prisons. Type R prisons were set up according to the "cell system" in six blocks with twelve individual and 46 communal prison rooms for three prisoners each. In its defence, Turkey claims that a health service is available to the prisoners around the clock for nursing and medical care.”

The lawyer stated: "One of the fellow inmates of Aktaş is paralyzed from the neck down. The second prisoner is paraplegic. Everyday life in the cell is such that Ergin washes the clothes of all three with his feet. His two fellow prisoners wring them out with their hands. So these three people are said to be a huge danger for Turkey. A contemptuous view of humanity, which the European Court of Justice has endorsed. It is shameful," said Tuncer.

Since Ergin Aktaş took part in a hunger strike last March, he also suffers from chronic pneumonia. The human rights association IHD has also been campaigning for his release for years and has repeatedly called on the Turkish authorities to release the 31-year-old from prison as soon as possible.