TRIAL OF ACADEMICS: Prosecutor’s Office Demands Prison Sentence for 9 Academics

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  • April 27, 2018
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Trials 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 (April 26).

10 academics from Galatasaray University, İstanbul University, İstanbul Technical University and Marmara University had their second hearings at the 36th Heavy Penal Court. At nine hearings, the Prosecutor’s Office presented its opinion as to the accusations, demanding prison sentence for the academics. The requests of the attorneys for the extension of the investigation have been rejected.

The next hearings of the academics will be held on October 23 at 9 p.m.

The academics, whose hearings were held at the 36th Heavy Penal Court, were as follows:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. İpek Merçil from the Department of Sociology at Galatasaray University; Dr. Lecturer Oğuz Arıcı from the Faculty of Arts at İstanbul University; Dr. Lecturer Güven Gürkan Öztan from the Faculty of Political Sciences at İstanbul University; Emeritus Prof. Dr. Gülhan Türkay from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at İstanbul University; Dr. Lecturer Sinan Yıldırmaz from the Faculty of Political Sciences at İstanbul University; Prof. Dr. Taner Gören from the Faculty of Medicine at İstanbul University; Dr. Ertan Ersoy, who has been discharged from the Faculty of Economics at İstanbul University; Prof. Dr. İbrahim Kaboğlu, who has been discharged from the Faculty of Law at Marmara University; Dr. Mehmet Rıza Türkay from the Faculty of Economics at Marmara University; Emeritus Prof. Dr. Yücel Candemir from the Faculty of Engineering at İstanbul Technical University.

Another academic, whose second hearing would also be held at the 36th Heavy Penal Court, was Assoc. Prof. Nuray Ergüneş from the Faculty of Political Sciences at İstanbul University. Nuray Ergüneş, who could not attend her first hearing due to her health condition on December 21, 2017, lost her life on February 13, 2018. In a statement read out in front of the İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse before the hearings, the Academics for Peace commemorated Ergüneş.

The hearings against signatory academics started on December 5, 2017. As of April 26, 200 academics had their first hearings. 13 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison and all of the sentences were suspended, except for that of Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University.

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.

As of April 26, 200 academics had their first hearings. 13 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison and all of the sentences were suspended, except for that of Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University. (BK/SD)