Turkish Supreme Court upholds six year verdict imposed on two Czechs

Markéta Všelichová, Miroslav Farkas, photo: Sirnak Police, Mete Sohtaoğlu

The Turkish Supreme Court has upheld a six-year verdict imposed on a young Czech couple who were found guilty of cooperating with the YPG Kurdish militia, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. The Czech authorities have said they will explore all legal options to try to help them.

Markéta Všelichová,  Miroslav Farkas,  photo: Sirnak Police,  Mete Sohtaoğlu
Thirty-year-old Miroslav Farkas and twenty-four-year-old Marketa Všelichová were arrested in November 2016 trying to cross the Turkish-Syrian border and charged with aiding terrorist activities within the People's Protection Units YPG. Although the couple denied the charges, maintaining they were humanitarian workers who had aimed to create a field hospital near the Turkish-Iraqi border, they were found guilty of supporting a terrorist organization and sentenced to six years in prison by a Turkish court. A court of appeal later upheld that verdict and the Turkish Supreme Court has now done the same, in what is a legally binding verdict.

Their only hope now is to file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said it was exploring all the legal options of helping the couple. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Irena Valentová:

“By the decision of the Supreme Court in Ankara both Czechs have used all the appeals available to them under Turkish law. They can now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg with a complaint, but it is not possible to predict whether the court will accept such a complaint. The Czech diplomacy would like to discuss this case once again with representatives of the Turkish ministries of foreign affairs and justice.”

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also said the Czech Republic would get on the case.

“We will certainly get involved and use all the channels available to us. I cannot, at this point, be more specific about what steps we will take.”

YPG fighters,  photo: Voice of America / Public Domain
Efforts to help the couple have been ongoing. The former foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, repeatedly tried to secure the couple’s release during talks in Ankara, without success.

There are various hurdles on the road to securing their extradition to the Czech Republic. If they asked to serve the rest of their sentence in their homeland, and Ankara agreed to this step, the Czech Republic would have to accept the guilty verdict, despite the fact that it does not consider the YPG a terrorist organization. However, on those grounds it would have no reason to keep them in prison here.

The couple are serving their sentence in a jailhouse in Van in southeast Turkey. According to the Foreign Ministry their physical condition is satisfactory and their families are in contact with them via the Czech consul in Ankara.