Verdict on Cumhuriyet Newspaper Case Taken to Supreme Court of Appeals

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After the 3rd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld the verdict on Cumhuriyet newspaper case on February 19, the attorneys of the newspaper have appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Emphasizing that “the verdicts of conviction have to reversed since they are openly against the law”, the attorneys have requested that the right to appeal of the ones who have been sentenced to less than five years in prison be also granted and the execution of their prison sentences be suspended.

As reported by Alican Uludağ from daily Cumhuriyet, in their petition to the Supreme Court of Appeals, the attorneys of the newspaper have also demanded that a lawsuit be filed at the Constitutional Court for the annulment of the article which does not give the right of appeal to the ones sentenced to less than five years in prison. It has also been requested that the case be suspended until the Constitutional Court pronounces its verdict.

Objection of “inequality” for five-year limit

The 208-page petition of objection signed by the attorneys of Cumhuriyet newspaper Duygun Yarsuvat, Fikret İlkiz, Bahri Bayram Belen, Aynur Tuncel, Tora Pekin, Abbas Yalçın and Halil Kocabaş was sent to the 16th Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals yesterday (February 26).

In the petition, the attorneys have not only objected to the verdicts given for Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Aydın Engin, Ahmet Şık, Hikmet Çetinkaya and Orhan Erinç, who have been sentenced to more than five years in prison, but also to the verdicts on Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Emre İper, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Bülent Utku, whose prison sentences of less than five years were “definitely” upheld by the court of appeal.

Stating that the prison sentences which are less than five years will be executed, the attorneys have emphasized in the petition that “the consequences of this legal regulation cause inequality”:

“The inequality among equal defendants is evident. Inequality cannot be created among the equals by a legal regulation. Everyone has the right to request that the verdicts given for them be examined by the upper court.”

The attorneys have also emphasized that this situation will violate the right to a fair trial and harm the principle of equality.

What was the verdict?

There were 20 defendants in the Cumhuriyet newspaper case. On April 25, 2018, the İstanbul 27th Heavy Penal Court announced its verdict and sentenced 15 people to a total of 81 years, 45 days in prison. While three of the defendants were acquitted, the case files of Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır were separated from the others.

According to the verdict of the court:

*Cumhuriyet Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay was acquitted of “malpractice” and sentenced to 7 years 3 months and 15 days in prison on the charge of “aiding an illegal organization”. Atalay was released.

*Orhan Erinç was sentenced to 6 years and 3 months, Murat Sabuncu to 7 years and 6 months, Kadri Gürsel to 2 years and 6 months, Güray Öz to 3 years and 9 months, Musa Kart to 3 years and 9 months, Aydın Engin to 7 years and 6 months, Hikmet Çetinkaya to 6 years and 3 months, Ahmet Şık to 7 years and 6 months, Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara and Önder Çelik each to 3 years and 9 months, Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu to 10 years, Emre İper to 3 years 1 month and 15 days in prison on charge of “aiding a terrorist organization”. Bülent Utku was acquitted of “malpractice” and sentenced to 4 years and 6 months in prison on charge of “aiding and propagandizing for a terrorist organization”.

*Turhan Günay, Bülent Yener and Günseli Özaltay were acquitted.

*All defendants who were pending trial without arrest were released on probation.

*Files of Can Dündar and İlhan Tanır were separated.

(AS/SD)