Four people abducted five months ago and found earlier this week to be in the custody of Turkey’s counter-terrorism police were denied access to their lawyers according to the Ankara Lawyer’s Bar Association.
Diken news portal reported on Thursday that the association released a statement saying that the four detainees had also not been allowed to see a lawyer since they were found in the early hours of Monday.
“The members of our bar association were tasked with seeing these people [four detainees] as soon as their family members announced their detention [on social media],” the statement informed.
It further stated that members of the association as well as other private lawyers of the suspects, who went to the police station to see them, were not allowed to do so and asked instead to bring a copy of their identities
Ozgur Kaya, Erkan Irmak, Yasin Ugan and Salim Zeybek were found in custody of Ankara’s counterterrorism police after being missing for more than five months.
Gokhan Turkmen and Mustafa Yilmaz, who also went missing around the same time in Ankara, have not yet been found.
Many have claimed that the six abductees were victims of enforced disappearances due to their alleged links to the Gulen movement, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by the ruling AK Party (AKP) government.
Ankara also blames the group, led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, of masterminding the failed military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
Before they went missing, the abductees were reportedly sought in connection with investigations into the members of the faith-based movement, who strongly deny the coup related allegations and involvement in any terror activities.
In its statement, the Ankara Lawyer’s Bar Association also said: “It is deemed mandatory by our domestic law, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to make sure that suspects use their right to access to a lawyer.”
Article 298 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) states that “any person who prevents a convict or detainee from appointing or meeting with a lawyer shall be sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of one to three years.”
“Therefore, it is an evident legal obligation that they [the authorities] let our lawyers meet with the suspects so as to protect their rights, ensure the correctness of the way the investigation is being carried out and to inform the public in the right manner.”
The statement also included the demand that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office should do what is necessary to make sure that lawyers from the Ankara Lawyer’s Bar association, who have been appointed by the families, see the four suspects in custody.
The association concluded their statement with another request that the public should be informed about each step of the investigation into the abductions in Turkey’s capital.
Both Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party, as well as the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, previously claimed that the forced disappearances were politically-motivated.
Gergerlioglu went so far as to claim that the abductees were being severely tortured and that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks that Turkey has “zero tolerance toward torture,” have no basis as there are widespread, systematic and increasing incidents of torture being reported across the country.