“Left-wing terrorist” acquitted: seven years in pre-trial detention

Because he was allegedly involved in a left-wing attack in Turkey, Faruk E. spent seven years in German pretrial detention. Now he has been acquitted.

Acquittal under high security: police officers in front of the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court. Photo: dpa

After almost seven years in pre-trial detention, the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court has acquitted a defendant of murder charges. The court had been unable to question the main prosecution witness in Turkey despite intensive efforts, presiding judge Barbara Havliza said Friday.

The 60-year-old defendant, Faruk E., had been accused of ordering an attack in Istanbul from Germany as a leading cadre of the left-wing terrorist Dev Sol, in which two police officers and three of the attackers were killed in 1993.

In the 1980s, the stateless man had already spent four years in Turkish custody without a verdict on other charges. He was also tortured in Turkey at that time, explained his defense attorney Peter Budde. Now he is entitled to compensation because of the U-detention.

Faruk E. was arrested in Germany in 2007. The first trial before the Higher Regional Court began in 2009. It ended in 2011 with a sentence of life imprisonment as the mastermind of the attack.

During a planned witness hearing in Turkey, the Turkish judiciary surprisingly presented a witness other than the one planned. The new witness incriminated the defendant: another member of the communist terrorist group had revealed to him that the defendant had ordered the attack.

Key witness through hearsay

The defense lawyers criticized that they had hardly been able to prepare for the new witness and spoke of a plot by the Turkish state. This "hearsay witness" nevertheless became the key witness on which the sentence of life imprisonment was based. However, the Federal Supreme Court overturned the verdict in 2012 because of contradictions in his testimony.

When the trial was due to be reopened, the court had failed to reinterview the key witness, who is said to be in a Turkish witness protection program. While Turkey had promptly complied with all other requests for assistance from the Senate, this witness, of all people, had not been available to the Senate. Reasons had not called Turkey for it. This speaks "its own language," Havliza said.

Since his arrest in Hagen in April 2007, the defendant had been in pre-trial detention until February 2014, when the Senate lifted the arrest warrant. However, the process continued. The DHKP-C later emerged from Dev Sol, which was also banned in Germany.