Press Release No: Individual Application 25/18
05.07.2018

PRESS RELEASE CONCERNING THE JUDGMENT FINDING NO VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE DUE TO DETONATION OF A HAND GRENADE FOUND ON A LAND

On 11 June 2018, the First Section of the Constitutional Court found no violation of the right to life safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution but a violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time safeguarded by Article 36 of the Constitution, in the individual application lodged by Cemal Kılıç (no. 2014/8722).

The Facts

The applicant was injured as a result of the detonation of a hand grenade which he had found together with his friend on a land. He therefore suffered loss of limb.

The gendarmerie officers carried out an examination at the incident scene and issued a report indicating that the applicant and his friend found an object in a stream bed and the fuse was detonated as they tampered with it.

In the expert report prepared within the scope of the criminal proceedings, it is noted that the hand grenade was detonated as the applicant had pulled its pin. In the report, both the applicant and his friend were found to be at fault in different degrees.

The applicant filed an application with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, alleging that the administration was responsible for the incident as the explosive substance was left on the land. After his request had been rejected, he successfully filed an action before the administrative court and was awarded compensation for his pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages.

This decision was appealed by the defendant administration and thereupon quashed by the State of Council.

At re-proceedings, the administrative court complied with the quashing judgment and accordingly dismissed the applicant’s action. The request for rectification of the judgment was dismissed by the Council of State.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant maintained that his right to life was violated as he was wounded as a result of detonation of a hand grenade on an open terrain as well as his right to a trial within a reasonable period of time was violated due to the prolongation of the action for compensation. 

The Constitutional Court’s Assessment

1. Alleged Violation of the Right to Life

Taken together with Article 5 of the Constitution, the right to life enshrined in Article 17 entails not only negative obligations but also positive obligations for the State.

However, the State’s obligation to protect an individual’s life is not unlimited in respect of those who have acted in an excessively reckless manner in case of a threat. Besides, such an obligation does not assure an absolute protection against the threat under all conditions and circumstances.

In the present case, the applicant was wounded as a result of detonation of a hand grenade which was on a land open to public access.

The terrain where the incident took place is neither an area for military exercise nor a mine field expected to be secured by the State. Therefore, the State is not liable to take special measures in the terrain. Besides, it has been revealed as a result of the examination of the incident that the applicant had an insight into the fact that the object found on the land might be an explosive substance.

It has been concluded that the applicant was not vulnerable to the threat, and he caused detonation of the explosive substance by tampering with it in spite of being aware that it constituted an explicit threat to his life.

For the reasons explained above, the Constitutional Court found no violation of the right to life safeguarded by Article 17 of the Constitution.

2. Alleged Violation of the Right to a Trial within a Reasonable Time

Article 36 of the Constitution secures everyone’s right to a trial within a reasonable period of time.

In assessing whether the length of trial is reasonable, various matters are taken into account such as the complexity and level of the proceedings, the manner of the parties and the relevant authorities during the proceedings, and interest of the applicant in the speedy conclusion of the proceedings.

Given the above-cited principles and judgments rendered by the Court in similar applications, it has been concluded that the trial period of 12 years is not reasonable.

For the reasons explained above, the Court found a violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time safeguarded by Article 36 of the Constitution.

This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.

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