Turkish Constitutional Court deems anonymous testimony sufficient grounds for arrest

In a landmark ruling, Turkey’s top court has ruled that anonymous testimony containing “strong evidence of a crime" is sufficient grounds for arrest.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that secret testimony showing “strong evidence of a crime” is sufficient to arrest suspects without any further supporting evidence, according to reporting by Deutsche Welle Turkish. 

The controversial and landmark decision by the court comes as the practice of arresting people based on secret testimony has rapidly increased in recent years. The first instance of the use of this practice was by prosecutor Zekeriya Öz during the Ergenekon deep state investigation in 2012, and has greatly increased since the coup attempt against President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led government in 2016.

Critics and human rights advocates say the practice has been used to fabricate testimony and silence dissent and resistance. 

However, the top court said that if secret testimony produces “concrete evidence” of a criminal act, it is sufficient for arrest. 

The court's ruling concerns the 2020 arrest of Diyarbakır Eğil Municipality's former council member Rıza Barut. The court said that Barut's arrest based on secret testimony was illegal because the statement used to charge him with "membership in a terrorist organization” was "abstract." If "concrete," his arrest would have been legal, the top court ruled. 

The court said that if statements made by a secret witness include specifics such as name, date, and time, and if the statements can be verified and cross-examined as “concrete,” then they are sufficient grounds for arrest.