The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) delivered its final judgement in the Güzelyurtlu case on Tuesday, after holding initially both Nicosia and Ankara responsible for not cooperating to solve the murder case.
By 15 votes to two, the Court deemed that Cyprus had not violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to life/investigation) and unanimously voted that there had been a violation of the Article by Turkey.
In January 2005 Elmas Güzelyurtlu, his wife Zerrin, and their daughter Eylül were shot dead on the Nicosia-Larnaca highway and after the incident, their killers fled back to the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus.
In its Chamber judgement of April 4, 2017, the Court stated that Cyprus and Turkey were obliged to cooperate effectively to facilitate an effective investigation, however neither government had been prepared to compromise and find middle ground.
On September 18, 2017, the Court accepted the requests of the governments of Cyprus and Turkey that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber. Today’s judgment is final.
According to an ECHR press release, the Court found that “Cyprus had done all that could reasonably have been expected of it to obtain the surrender/extradition of the suspects from Turkey, submitting “Red notice” requests to Interpol and, when this proved unsuccessful, extradition requests to Turkey.
“The Cypriot authorities could not be criticised for refusing to submit all the evidence and to transfer the proceedings to the authorities of the ‘TRNC’ or Turkey. That would have amounted to Cyprus waiving its criminal jurisdiction over a murder committed in its controlled area in favour of the courts of an unrecognised entity set up within its territory,” the Court deemed.
Regarding Turkey, the Court said that “it had not made the minimum effort required in the circumstances of the case. They had ignored Cyprus’s extradition requests, returning them without reply, contrary to their obligation under Article 2, read in the light of other international agreements, to cooperate by informing the requesting State of its decision and, in the case of rejection, to give reasons.”
The Court held that Turkey was to pay each applicant €8,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage. It further awarded the applicants a combined sum of €10,000 in respect of costs and expenses.
Find the full decision here.