Constitutional Court rejects Nisanyan appeal

Emre Can Daglıoglu 04.02.2015 10:28 NEWS

The appeal to the Constitutional Court regarding Sevan NiÅ~_anyan's
cases for opposition to the Code of Protection of Cultural and Natural
Properties for which he received long term prison sentences has been
rejected. The next legal step is the ECHR.

In its verdict dated January 30, the Constitutional Court ruled
that the appeal displayed a 'clear lack of basis' since no explicit
arbitrariness had been detected in NiÅ~_anyan's trial process.

NiÅ~_anyan's lawyer Ergin Cinmen stated that with this ruling of
the Constitutional Court they had exhausted domestic legal remedies,
and that they would be applying to the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR) in the coming days.

Grounds of appeal

The appeal filed on 23 September 2014 covered the sentences attributed
to NiÅ~_anyan in reference to Article 65 of the Law on "deliberately
causing damage to immovable cultural assets under protection". The
appeal was founded on the fact that the allegation had not been
serviced to NiÅ~_anyan and that therefore NiÅ~_anyan could not have
known the specific criminal scope of his acts. The prior cancellation
of the relevant law by the Constitutional Court had been presented
as a further rationale.

In response to the appeal, in its verdict, the Constitutional
Court justified the decision of the local court that ruled for the
sentence and that of the Court of Cassation, which approved it,
and accepted the view that NiÅ~_anyan was aware of the fact that
the site where he committed the attributed crime was a Protected
Area. The Constitutional Court also ruled that the Court of Cassation
had approved a crime that had been committed before the Constitutional
Court had annulled the relevant law. In the conclusion for the verdict,
the Constitutional Court stated that there was no apparent mistake in
valuation or explicit arbitrariness in the cases, clearly underlining
that the Constitutional Court would not examine such cases, and that
therefore the appeal was unacceptable because it displayed a 'clear
lack of basis'.

Next step: ECHR

NiÅ~_anyan's lawyer Ergin Cinmen who filed the application to the
Constitutional Court said the following regarding the verdict: "The
Constitutional Court had previously ruled that the procedure related
to crime NiÅ~_anyan has been sentenced for was a violation of the
Constitution. Thus the Court, at present, has confirmed NiÅ~_anyan's
confinement by attributing to him a crime that itself found to be in
violation of the Constitution in its nature. Since with this ruling of
the Constitutional Court we have exhausted domestic legal remedies,
we will be applying to the European Court of Human Rights in the
coming days. However, the procedure there progresses very slowly."

NiÅ~_anyan has been imprisoned since January 2014, and he also
has a pending prison sentence of 14 years 2 months inflicted for
opposition to the Construction Law and the Code of Protection of
Cultural and Natural Properties which has not been approved by the
Court of Cassation as of yet. NiÅ~_anyan is currently the only person
in Turkey who is serving a prison sentence in a closed prison in
relation to these specific crimes.