Washington, D.C.: Perseus Strategies, a boutique U.S.-based law firm focusing on international human rights, recently filed a petition (attached) with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the Turkish Defendants in the “Sledgehammer” coup plot case. The Working Group consists of independent and impartial experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council whose mandate is to investigate detentions imposed arbitrarily or inconsistently with international human rights standards. The filed petition seeks a legal opinion from the Working Group that the Turkish Government’s ongoing detention of the 250 Defendants is in violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The Turkish Government’s actions in this case clearly violate international law,” said Jared Genser, Managing Director of Perseus Strategies, who made the submission. “The Government has failed to observe minimum international standards of due process, including refusing to assess the validity of demonstrably forged evidence that has been used to frame the Defendants for planning an alleged coup.”
In response to the unfair mass arrests of their colleagues, the Chief of the Turkish Armed Forces along with the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force resigned together in a single dramatic day last summer. The case was widely viewed as the means for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to decapitate the power of the military, which has long been a force for secularism in Turkish society. Since assuming office, Prime Minister Erdoğan has relentlessly pursued his political opponents. In the past five years alone, more than 700 people have been arrested, not only generals and admirals, but also members of parliament, newspaper editors, journalists, owners of television networks, directors of charitable organization, and university officials.
Through the use of independent experts, the Defense has proven the “incriminating” evidence had been forged and is being used to frame the defendants. The prosecution claims the coup was planned for 2003, yet documents used by the prosecution in court were written in a font not available on Microsoft Word until 2006. All defense requests for a court-ordered independent evaluation of the evidence have inexplicably been refused. In addition, the Turkish Government recently exposed its motives by forcing the retirement of 34 of the Defendants in the case from the military in advance of a verdict in the case. Such actions by the Turkish Court and Government violate the basic due process protections afforded by international law, most fundamentally, the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
You can see the petition here.