TRIAL OF ACADEMICS: 3 More Academics Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

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  • April 9, 2018
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Hearings of academics, who have been standing trial on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” for having signed the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by Academics for Peace, continued in İstanbul Courthouse 32nd Heavy Penal Court.

Discharged from İstanbul University (İÜ) Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erhan Keleşoğlu, discharged from Yıldız Technical University (YTÜ) Research Fellow İrfan Emre Kovankaya and Assist. Prof. Dr. Sharo İbrahim Garip from Van Yüzüncü Yıl Technical University (VYÜ) stood their third hearings.

Giving his opinion as to the accusations in the previous hearing, prosecutor Caner Babaloğlu had demanded that the academics be penalized as per Anti-Terror Law Article 7/2. Proving the academics guilty as charged, the court sentenced the academics to 15 months in prison. The sentences were suspended.

Turkish Anti-Terror Act

Article 7(2)

Any person making propaganda for a terrorist organisation shall be punished with imprisonment from one to five years. If this crime is committed through means of mass media, the penalty shall be aggravated by one half. In addition, editors-in-chief (…)2
who have not participated in the perpetration of the crime shall be punished with a judicial fine from one thousand to fifteen thousand days’ rates. However, the upper limit of this sentence for editors-in-chief is five thousand days’ rates.

The hearings against signatory academics started on December 5, 2017. As of April 9, 185 people had their first hearings, 33 of them had their second hearings and one academic had the third. 10 academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, and the sentences were suspended. All sentences except the one imposed on Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University have been deferred.

The court committee consisted of the following figures:

Chief Judge: Ömer Günaydın

Members: Onur Sert, Habibe Ertuğrul

Prosecutor: Caner Babaloğlu

What happened?

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled “We will not be party to this crime” on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.

On March 10, 2016, Asst. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Asst. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kıvanç Ersoy and Asst. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı read out the press statement at a press conference that was was held on behalf of the Academics for Peace/Istanbul group regarding the developments which had occurred since the declaration was first shared with the public.

The first three of these academics were arrested on the charge of “terrorist propaganda” on March 15, 2016, and the last, Camcı, who was abroad at the time, was arrested on March 31 when she returned to Turkey. The four academics were released on April 22, 2016 upon their first hearing, in which the prosecutor of the trial changed the charges pressed against the academics to the crimes regulated under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (insulting Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions) and applied for authorization from the Ministry of Justice to hold the trial under the new article.

Another bill of indictment was prepared in October 2017 regarding at least 148 academics who signed the declaration. The academics were charged with “terrorist organization propaganda” under Article 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Act (#3713) in the bill of indictment prepared by Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt. The first hearings were held on December 5, 2017.

The hearings against signatory academics started on December 5, 2017. As of April 9, 185 people had their first hearings, 33 of them had their second hearings and one academic had the third. 10 academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, and the sentences were suspended. All sentences except the one imposed on Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University have been deferred. (TP/TK)