While in police custody the applicant was not permitted to receive a copy of the case file for the trial from his lawyers, or anything else that would assist him in the preparation of his defence. He was obliged to write out his defence by hand without being able to see any of the documents in the case file other than the indictment, which was already given to him. The applicant and his lawyers also were given access to the case file, comprising 17,000 pages, just sixteen days before the hearings started.
Mr. Öcalan complained that he had not enjoyed equality of arms with the prosecution in preparing his defence, among other things, because he did not obtain effective access to the case file.
The court held that the applicant had to be given an opportunity to personally examine the evidence because due to his involvement in the commission of the crime he was best placed to assess its relevance to defence. The court also concluded that the time given to the applicant and his lawyers to prepare a response to a case file of 17 000 pages was insufficient. The preparation of defence was also hindered by the restrictions on the number and length of the applicant’s meetings with his lawyers. The Court found that overall effect of these difficulties had restricted the rights of the defence to such an extent that the principle of a fair trial, as set out in Article 6, had been contravened.