Ilkay Adali sought damages in 1997 from the Turkish government, which maintains effective control over the renegade Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). She claimed that Turkish or TRNC authorities ordered the killing, but the court said there was not enough evidence to conclude that security agents were involved in the murder.
Adali, a political columnist with the leftist daily Yeni Duzen who opposed the division of Cyprus, was shot to death outside his home in the island's divided capital of Nicosia on July 6, 1996. He had received work-related threats prior to his murder.
The court, based in Strasbourg, France, faulted the investigation. It concluded that there was "no real coordination or monitoring of the scene of the incident by the investigating authorities, the ballistic examination carried out by the authorities was insufficient, and the investigating authorities failed to take statements from key witnesses."
The court said authorities failed to "investigate the possibility that the murder ...had any link to his work as a journalist" and that much of the inquiry "was conducted only after the applicant's case before the European Court had been communicated to the Turkish government."
Officials at the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., and the Turkish mission in Strasbourg did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Alice Bouras, a spokeswoman for the court, told the Committee to Protect Journalists today that the government of Turkey has not indicated yet whether it would appeal the ruling.
The court is a pan-European body with authority to override domestic courts when they fail to address human rights abuses. A summary of the Adali ruling is available at: http://www.echr.coe.int/Eng/Press/PressReleases.html.
Some 35,000 Turkish troops are stationed in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, founded after Turkey invaded the northern half of the Mediterranean island in 1974. The island remains divided into a more prosperous ethnic Greek section in the south and an isolated and impoverished ethnic Turkish sector in the north.
Nicosia is also divided in two, with one side controlled by the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot authorities and the other by the Turkish government.
Turkish Cypriot nationalists who are opposed to reunification of the island periodically threaten journalists in northern Cyprus for advocating greater contact or integration with southern Cyprus.