European Court of Human Rights
27 November 2008

Facts

The applicant, Mr Salduz, was taken into custody by the police officers on a suspicion of having participated in an unlawful demonstration. The applicant was interrogated in the absence of a lawyer and he confessed in participating in the demonstration and other actions. When taken to the investigative judge, Mr Salduz denied any connection with the previously mentioned demonstration or other actions. The investigative judge remanded Mr Salduz in custody. After that he was allowed to see a lawyer. At the end of the proceedings the Turkish courts convicted Mr Salduz of aiding illegal organization and sentenced him to two and a half years imprisonment.

Complaint

Mr Salduz alleged that his defence rights had been violated as he had been denied access to a lawyer during his police custody.

Court's ruling

The Court stated that access to a lawyer had to be provided, as a rule, from the first police interview of a suspect, unless it could be demonstrated that in the particular circumstances there were compelling reasons to restrict that right. In the instant case, the justification given for denying the applicant access to a lawyer – namely that such access was by law systematically denied for offences falling within the jurisdiction of the state security courts – unduly prejudiced the rights of the defence. In sum, even though Mr Salduz had had the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him at his trial and subsequently at the appeal, the absence of a lawyer during his period in the police custody had irretrievably affected his defence rights. Thus Court found a violation of Article 6 of the Convention.

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