TRIAL OF ACADEMICS: Presiding Judge: I Have Freedom of Expression As Well

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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 today (November 8).

Four academics had their hearings at two separate courts:

At the İstanbul 27th Heavy Penal Court; research assistant Sinem Seçer Sipahi from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (MSGSÜ), retired Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sercan from Abant İzzet Baysal University and Assoc. Prof. Dr. B.T. from California University had their first hearings.

At the İstanbul 36th Heavy Penal Court; retired Prof. Dr. Bülent Tanju from Yıldız Technical University (YTÜ) had his second hearing.

Opinion as to accusations for one academic

At the 36th Heavy Penal Court, the Prosecutor’s Office announced its opinion as to the accusations for Bülent Tanju.

The office demanded that the academic be penalized on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the first and second sentences of the Article no. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law.

The law in question foresees that the ones “who have propagandized for a terrorist organization” shall be sentenced to 1 to 5 years in prison. Moreover, “in the event that the offence is committed via media organs, the foreseen period for prison sentence shall be increased by half.”

“There is a website called BİAT or something”

At the 27th Heavy Penal Court, at the hearing of Sinem Seçer Sipahi, Presiding Judge Tamer Keskin stated that “the things spoken here are written on a news website called BİAT or something (referring to bianet)” and said,

“Dear Ms. attorney, please you say, how nice, how ethical is to write these things there? I have freedom of expression as well.”

CLICK – Presiding Judge: Sitting Across Bosphorus and Drinking Scotch Would Not Do

In response, attorney Meriç Eyüboğlu said, “Freedom of expression is punished with a minimum of 1 year and 3 months in prison.”

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. 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 November 8, 2018, 384 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017. 33 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison and all of the sentences were suspended, except for those of Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University and Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı from Marmara University.

The penalty of Prof. Dr. Üstel was not deferred on the grounds that “she did not demand deferment of the announcement of the verdict and that she did not make a statement of penitence.” As for the penalty of Prof. Dr. Büşra Ersanlı, it was not deferred on the ground that “no opinion as to her avoidance of committing offense has emerged considering her personality which does not express any remorse.”

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 above-mentioned 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.”

The trials still continue. (TP/SD)

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