TRIAL OF ACADEMICS: First Dissenting Opinion of Acquittal Against a Verdict of Conviction

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  • February 27, 2019
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Trial of academics, who have been charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” for having signed the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by the Academics for Peace, continued in İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse yesterday (February 26).

11 academics had their hearings at five separate courts:

At the İstanbul 36th Heavy Penal Court: Lecturer Evren Erlevent and Prof. Dr. Z.S. from Artuklu University; Dr. Lecturer Zeliha Burcu Acar from Yüzüncü Yıl University and Dr. Lecturer Hatice Yeşildal from Anadolu University had their first hearings.

At the İstanbul 24th Heavy Penal Court: Dr. Lecturer Volkan Çidam and Dr. Nurçin İleri from Boğaziçi University had their fourth hearings.

At the İstanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court: Assoc. Prof. İpek Yürekli from İstanbul Technical University (İTÜ) had her fifth hearing and Dr. Sakine Çil from Boğaziçi University had her third hearing.

At the İstanbul 33rd Heavy Penal Court: Assoc. Prof. Candan Badem from Munzur University and Dr. Lecturer Ali Serdar Tekin from Ege University had their second hearings.

At the İstanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court: Dr. Lecturer Özlem Beyarslan from Boğaziçi University had her fifth hearing.

Deferred prison sentence of 15 months for 4 academics

Having their hearings at three separate courts, academics Özlem Beyarslan, Evren Erlevent, Z.S. and İpek Yürekli have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).

The announcement of all four verdicts has been suspended.

Dissenting opinion: “He should have been acquitted”

In his final hearing held at the İstanbul 33rd Heavy Penal Court, academic Candan Badem has also been sentenced to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.”

While the court board has ruled that the pronouncement of his verdict shall also be suspended, one of the judges who is member to the court board has expressed a dissenting opinion, stating that “a verdict of acquittal should have been given for the academic.”

It is the first time that a judge has expressed a dissenting opinion of acquittal in trials of academics, which have been continuing for more than a year.

About the Trials of Academics

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.

With the participation of further academics, the number of academics who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212.

With the indictment issued by the Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, lawsuits were filed against the academics on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.

As of February 26, 2019, 486 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017, all the 135 academics whose cases were concluded have been sentenced to prison. 98 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 4 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; 14 academics to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison; 15 academics to 2 years and 3 months in prison; two academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic to 3 years in prison.

The suspension of the pronouncement of the verdict

Until today, 12 academics have not accepted that the announcement of their verdicts be deferred. While seven of these academics have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, one academic has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months, one academic to 2 years and 3 months, one academic to 2 years and 6 months and one academic to 3 years in prison. The verdict of one academic has not been pronounced by the court yet.

The court board of the 36th Heavy Penal Court has reduced the prison sentences of academics who did not demand the suspension of the pronouncement of their verdicts and deferred their sentences on a 2-year probation. The 32nd Heavy Penal Court has made reductions in the sentences; however, it has not deferred them. The 37th Heavy Penal Court has neither reduced nor deferred the pronouncement of the verdicts.

Three academics were not asked about whether they requested the suspension of the pronouncement of their verdicts. While one of these three academics has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison, one of them has been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months and the other academic to 2 year and 3 months in prison.

The prison sentences of academics, the announcement of whose verdicts has not been suspended since their sentence is over two years, will be taken to the court of appeal. The court of appeal will either uphold or reverse the verdict.

On March 10, 2016, the Academics for Peace made a statement for press and shared with the public what they had been going through since the declaration “We will not be a party to this crime” was published. The academics Dr. Lecturer Esra Mungan, Dr. Lecturer Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kıvanç Ersoy (March 15, 2016) and Dr. Lecturer Meral Camcı (March 31, 2016), who read out the statement for press, were arrested on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law. They were released on April 2016. Upon the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice granted a permission of trial as per the Article No. 301 of the Turkish Penal Code No. 301 on charges of “insulting the Turkish Nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey and the institutions and organs of the government.”

You can reach all news on Trials of Academics here.

(TP/SD)