İstanbul - BIA News Desk22 May 2019, Wednesday 09:14
7 People Sentenced to Prison in Özgür Gündem Trial
While seven columnists and executives of the closed Özgür Gündem newspaper have been sentenced to prison, the court has ruled that the case files of seven defendants shall be separated and eight people shall be acquitted.
The final hearing of the case, where the columnists and executives of the closed Özgür Gündem newspaper were tried for "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and "openly inciting to commit crime", was held at the İstanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court yesterday (May 21).
The court has ruled Ayşe Batumlu and Reyhan Hacıoğlu shall be each sentenced to 1 year, 3 months; Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan to 3 years, 9 months; Hüseyin Aykol to 2 years, 1 month; Hüseyin Güçlü and Tahir Temel to 1 year, 6 months in prison for "terror propaganda."
The prison sentences of Reyhan Hacıoğlu and Ayşe Batumlu have been deferred as per the Article 51/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
The court has also ruled that the case files of Filiz Koçali, Enver Baysal, Hasan Başak, İhsan Yorulmaz, Muzaffer Ayata, Serbest Zan and Züleyha Yılmaz shall be separated on the ground that the warrants against them cannot be executed and their testimonies have not been taken.
As for the defendants Ayşe Berktay, Celalettin Can, Cemal Bozkurt, Çetin Ulu, Nuray Özdoğan, Emrullah Kurcan, Ergin Atabey and Özlem Söyler, they have been acquitted of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization." The charges brought against Bülent Alp have been dropped as the statute of limitations has been violated as per the Press Law.
Excuse of Hacıoğlu not accepted
Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan, two of the 23 defendants tried in the case, and Özcan Kılıç and Sercan Korkmaz, the attorneys of the defendants, attended the final hearing. The hearing was also followed by representatives from the Embassy of Ireland.
The petition of Reyhan Hacıoğlu, who stated that she could not attend the hearing due to her hunger strike, was rejected by the court board on the ground that it was the final hearing of the case.
Keskin: I don't believe I committed a crime
The prosecutor of the hearing indicated that he repeated his opinion as to the accusations that he presented in the hearing dated October 26, 2017.
Presenting her statement of defense as to the accusations, Eren Keskin stated the following:
"I support freedom of thought and expression. I became the editor-in-chief because I supported the freedom of publishing. I do not believe that I committed a crime. I do not believe that thought is a crime, either. I request my acquittal."
Reyhan Çapan also indicated that she did not commit any crime and demanded her acquittal.
Prison sentence for 7 people
Announcing its judgement, the court has ruled that seven people shall be sentenced to prison and prison sentences of Hacıoğlu and Batumlu shall be deferred on the ground of "their verdicts of conviction that have not yet become definite and their attitude and behavior during the hearing."
As the warrants against seven defendants have not been executed, their files have been separated. The case of one defendant has dropped due to statute of limitations. The court has ruled for the acquittal of eight people.
Trials of Özgür Gündem Editors-in-Chief on Watch
The Editors-in-Chief on Watch campaign of Özgür Gündem daily had begun on May 3, 2016 and ended on August 7, 2016. Daily was closed through the Statutory Decree No. 675 issued under the State of Emergency.
Investigations have been launched against 50 of the 56 Editors-in-Chief on Watch who have participated in the campaign. In 11 of these cases, the court has ordered not to prosecute and in 38 cases, a lawsuit has been brought. One case has been dismissed due to expiration of the Statute of Limitation in the investigation
Relying on the Articles 7(2) and 6(2) of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713, the 38 Editors-in-Chief on Watch have stood trial on the charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and for "publishing and spreading statements of terrorist organizations.
Cases in which court ruled no prosecution
İhsan Eliaçık, Sebahat Tuncel, Ahmet Abakay, Eşber Yağmurdereli, Hasip Kaplan, Işın Eliçin, Kemal Can, Mustafa Sönmez, Melda Onur, Uğur Karadaş, Nurcan Baysal.
Editors-in-Chief on Watch, against whom lawsuits were brought
A. Kumru Başer, Ahmet Nesin, Ayşe Batumlu, Ayşe Düzkan, Beyza Üstün,Can Dündar, Celal Başlangıç, Celalettin Can, Cengiz Baysoy, Çilem Küçükkkeleş, Derya Okatan, Dicle Anter, Erol Önderoğlu, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, Faruk Balıkçı, Faruk Eren, Fehim Işık, Hüseyin Tahmaz, Hakkı Boltan, Hasan Cemal, Hasan Hayri Şanlı, İbrahim Bodur, İhsan Çaralan,Julide Kural, Murat Çelikkan, Murat Uyurkulak, Nadire Mater, Necmiye Alpay, Nevin Erdemir, Öncü Akgül, Ragıp Duran, Said Sefa, Şanar Yurdatapan, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Tuğrul Eryılmaz, Veysi Altay, Yıldırım Türker.
* Deniz Türkali's case was dismissed due to expiration of the Statute of Limitation in the investigation.
* The cases of Özgür Gündem daily's former editor-in-Chief Hüseyin Aykol, columnists Mehmet Ali Çelebi and Hüseyin Bektaş, who were on duty during the campaign, have been combined with the cases of Düzkan, Duran and Çelebi.
The 38 Editors-in-Chief on Watch have stood trial / are standing on the charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" and for "publishing and spreading statements of terrorist organizations under the Articles 7(2) and 6(2) of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.
Cases brought against 4 writers
Lawsuits were filed against Ömer Ağın and Dilşah Kocakaya due to their articles published on Özgür Gündem daily, while Celal Başlangıç was the Editor-in-Chief on Watch; against İmam Canpolat due to an article published while Cengiz Baysoy was the Editor-in-Chief on Watch, and against İlham Bakır due to an article published while Jülide Kural was the Editor-in-Chief on Watch.
Önderoğlu, Nesin, Korur-Fincancı in 10-days pre-trial detention
* Editors-in-Chief on Watch, Erol Önderoğlu, Ahmet Nesin and Şebnem Korur Fincancı were arrested in June 2016 and released after 10 days.
The next hearing of the three writers whose trials continue, will be held on December, 27, 2017.
68,000 TL (15,619 Euros) fine, 188 months and 15 days of prison sentence
Verdict has been rendered in the trials of Şanar Yurdatapan, İbrahim Bodur, Cengiz Baysoy, İmam Canpolat, Çilem Küçükkeleş, Nadire Mater, Yıldırım Türker, Hasan Cemal, Faruk Balıkçı, Dicle Anter, Derya Okatan, Kumru Başer, Ayşe Batumlu, Jülide Kural, İlham Bakır, Murat Uyurkulak, Murat Çelikkan, Beyza Üstün, Nevin Erdemir, Hakkı Boltan, Hasan Hayri Şanlı and Tuğrul Eryılmaz.
Şanlı, Erdemir, Tahmaz and Boltan have been acquitted.
Prison sentences of Çelikkan (18 months), Canpolat (15 months) not deferred
The court has ruled in 22 cases in total, that the editors-in-chief on watch be sentenced to 68,000 TL (15,619 Euros) fine and 235 months and 15 days in prison. All prison sentences except those of Canpolat and Çelikkan, have been deferred.
Çelikkan entered Kırklareli Prison on August 14, 2017 and was transferred to open prison on October 14, 2017. He was released on October 21, 2017.
Özgür Gündem Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya is defendant in all 38 cases. His case was separated from the others in the trials together with the other Editors-in-Chief on Watch. İstanbul 23rd Heavy Criminal Court is combining Kızılkaya's case with the main trial.
Özgür Gündem main trial
In the main trial, Özgür Gündem Consultant Board members Necmiye Alpay, Aslı Erdoğan, Ragıp Zarakolu, Filiz Koçali, Eren Keskin, Editors-in-Chief Zana Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Bilge Oykut are standing trial.
Sancılı has still been arrested as part of the lawsuit.
“Özgür Gündem raid” trial adjourned until January
On June 29, an Istanbul court continued hearing the trial into 22 journalists who were forcibly taken into custody by the police during a 2016 raid on the offices of the now closed down pro-Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem.
The journalists are charged with resisting arrest and insulting police officers.
Twenty-four journalists were taken into custody during the August 2016 raid, which took place after a court had ordered the closure of the paper. In addition to Özgür Gündem employees, several journalists from other news outlets who were at the scene to cover the raid were also detained. The journalists were later released, however, an indictment was issued against 22 of them, accusing them of resisting arrest and insulting the police officers during the raid, and seeking 8 years and 4 months in prison for each.
Özgür Gündem employees Ender Öndeş, Kemal Bozkurt and Elif Aydoğmuş presented their defense statements during the June 29 hearing at the 5th Criminal Court of First Instance of Istanbul. All three journalists asked for their mobile phones, confiscated during the investigation phase, to be returned.
The court rejected journalists’ requests and adjourned the trial until January 30, 2019.
18 August 2016:
Journalists detained in Özgür Gündem raid released
Most journalists and staff detained in Tuesday's raid on the offices of pro-Kurdish daily Özgür Gündem in Istanbul on Tuesday were released today without charge, news website Bianet reported. Editor-in-Chief Bilir Kaya and News Editor İnan Kızılkaya were still in custody, according to the news agency ETHA. Aslı Erdoğan, a columnist and member of the newspaper's publishing board detained from her house after the August 16 raid of the newspaper's office, was also still in custody.
Those taken to the Çağlayan Courthouse for questioning and then set free are: Elif Aydoğmuş, Sevdiye Ergürbüz, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Amine Demirkıran, Günay Aksoy, Burcu Özkara, Kemal Bozkurt, Önder Elaldı, Ender Öndeş, Sinan Balık, Davut Uçar, Fırat Yeşilçınar, Zeki Erden, Bilir Kaya, Ersin Çaksu and Bayram Balcı from Özgür Gündem; Özgür Paksoy and Mesut Kaynar from Dicle News Agency (DİHA); and Gökhan Çetin and Gülfem Karataş of IMC TV. The DİHA and IMC TV journalists had gone to the Özgür Gündem offices after hearing news of the court decision to shut down the newspaper, and police detained them alongside Özgür Gündem staff. Three prosecutors questioned the journalists regarding accusations of "resisting the police," but no one was charged.*