European Court finds a Turkish migrant was tortured by one of the Greek coastguard officers supervising him
In the Chamber judgment of January 17, 2012, in the case Zontul v. Greece, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applicant, Necati Zontul, is a Turkish national who was born in 1968 and lives in London (United Kingdom).
On 27 May 2001 he and 164 other migrants boarded a boat in Istanbul which was bound for Italy. On 30 May the vessel was intercepted by Greek coastguards and escorted to the port of Chania (Crete). The migrants were placed in a disused merchant navy training school. According to Mr Zontul, the conditions of detention there were poor and several detainees were deliberately attacked by guards. He alleged that, between 1 and 6 June 2001, several detainees had been taken into a room from which they had emerged with injuries and, in some cases, unable to walk. There had also been reports of mock executions and Russian roulette.
On 5 June 2001 Mr Zontul reported that two coastguard officers had forced him to undress while he was in the bathroom. One of them had threatened him with a truncheon and had then raped him with it. One of the applicant’s fellow detainees had helped him back to the dormitory after the officers had left. In protest at that incident, the detainees had decided to go on hunger strike the following morning. Some of the coastguard officers had then burst into the dining room and gathered the detainees together, before beating them with truncheons and splashing them with water and a product resembling eau de cologne. One of the detainees had been made to “jump like a rabbit”.
The Court reiterated that the rape of a detainee by an official of the State was to be considered as an especially grave and abhorrent form of ill-treatment.
Under Article 41 (just satisfaction) of the Convention, the European Court held that Greece was to pay the applicant 50,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 3,500 in respect of costs and expenses.
Read European Court’s decision here.