Legal aid & Defence

You always have the right to self-paid legal aid. Sometimes legal aid will be provided and paid for by the State. You also have the right to meetings and confidential communication with your attorney at law.
Case summary

Öcalan v. Turkey


European Court of Human Rights
12 May 2005

Facts
The applicant, Mr Öcalan, was a Turkish national and the former leader of the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan.  He was taken into custody in a prison on the island of İmralı following which he was interrogated by the members of the security forces and the public prosecutor. More than a week later he appeared before a judge of the State Security Court, which ordered his detention pending the trial. Mr Öcalan was denied of access to a lawyer until this point. After allowing him to meet his lawyers restrictions were imposed on the number and the duration of the consultations and the prison guards were present at the meetings.

Complaint
Mr Öcalan complained of restrictions and difficulties he had encountered in securing assistance from his lawyers.

Court’s ruling
The Court found that the applicant had been denied access to a lawyer while in police custody, he had been unable to communicate with his lawyers out of the hearing of third parties, he had been unable to gain direct access to the case file until a very late stage in the proceedings, restrictions had been imposed on the number and duration of his lawyers’ visits, and his lawyers had not been given proper access to the case file until late in the day. The Court found that the overall effect of these difficulties had restricted the rights of the defence to such an extent that the right of a fair trial, as set out in Article 6, had been violated.

Human Rights Guide

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