Press Release No: Individual Application 23/16
06.05.2016

PRESS RELEASE CONCERNING THE JUDGMENT OF HADRA AKGÜL VE OTHERS ON THE RIGHT TO LIFE

On 24/3/2016, the Second Section of the Constitutional Court held with regard to the individual application lodged by Hadra Akgül and others (application no. 2014/867) that there had been a breach of the right to life guaranteed in Article 17 of the Constitution under its pocedural aspect with respect to the complaint that an effective investigation and prosecution had not been conducted into the death resulting from a traffic accident.

The Facts

Renas Bulut who was the son of Hadra Akgül, one of the applicants, and the brother of the remaining applicants lost his life on 6/12/2012 at the hospital where he was taken as a result of the traffic accident taking place.

The Traffic Specialization Board of the Ankara Group Presidency of the Forensic Medicine Institute delivered an opinion with its report of 24/1/2013 that the driver colliding with the pedestrian Renas Bulut was faulty of the second degree (“tali kusurlu”) while genuine fault was on the part of Renas Bulut. Upon this report, a criminal case was filed against the driver colliding with Renas Bulut for the offence causing reckless killing.

The applicants were informed of the death of their next-of-kin, Renas Bulut, and the criminal investigation and prosecution conducted into the accident on 14/3/2013. Thereupon, Hadra Akgül, one of the applicants, requested to become an intervening party to the criminal case heard before the 4th Chamber of the Sincan Criminal Court of General Jurisdiction with the petition dated 13/5/2013. 

The 4th Chamber of the Sincan Criminal Court of General Jurisdiction sentenced the driver colliding with Renas Bulut to imprisonment for a term of 1 year and 8 months as it was found established that the driver had been faulty of the second degree and decided to suspend the pronouncement of that judgment. The objection raised by the applicants to this decision was dismissed. Upon the decision on dismissal of the objection, the applicants lodged an individual application with the Constitutional Court.

The Applicants’ Allegations

The applicants maintained that their next-of-kin, Renas Bulut, had died as a result of a traffic accident; that although the deceased had carried an identity card and a mobile phone with him, the authorities had not got in contact with them, and therefore, his dead body was made to wait for about four and a half months in the Forensic Medicine Institute. They also alleged that they had been informed of the death and the investigation conducted into the accident with the instruction letter drawn up by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for establishing whether they would file a criminal complaint or not; that there were thereby denied involving in the investigation stage and the opportunity of being informed of the evidence requested to be collected during the investigation stage; that a decision had been rendered without making sufficient investigation and that the decision on the suspension of the pronouncement of the judgment had impaired their sense of justice. The applicants accordingly maintained that there had been a breach of the right to life.

The Court’s Assessment

One of the significant elements of an effective investigation is that the investigation and results thereof must be open to public scrutiny with a view to ensuring accountability in practice as well as in theory. In addition, in each incident, the next-of-kin of the deceased must be enabled to involve in that process to a required extent for the protection of their legitimate interests.  

The applicants were not notified of the investigation conducted by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. As a natural consequence thereof, they could not involve in any action taken at the investigation stage and obtain an opportunity to raise an objection to the actions performed. Having regard to this situation, it has been concluded that the applicants were denied the opportunity to involve in the first and critical stages of the investigation and to take part in the researches which were of critical importance for the clarification of the incident to the extent that could protect their legitimate interests; and that although one of the applicants, Hadra Akgül, became an intervening party to the criminal case filed against the driver upon the notification of the bill of indictment, this opportunity provided for the applicants six months after the incident was not sufficient for the protection of the legitimate interests of the applicants.  

For the above-mentioned explanations, it has been concluded that there was no breach of the right to life under its procedural aspect in respect of the actions taken at the prosecution stage and the decision on the suspension of the pronouncement of the judgment rendered by the inferior courts on the basis of the information and documents included in the case file. However, it has been held that the applicants’ denial of the opportunity for involving in the investigation stage, during which critical researches were conducted for the clarification of the incident, to an extent capable of protecting their legitimate interests constituted a breach of the right to life, which is guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution, under its procedural aspect.  

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

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