One verdict after another is given on the hearings of Özgür Gündem Editor in Chief on Watch hearings. Here are some of the highlights from the hearings of March 7 and 9:
* On March 7, Nadire Mater, Murat Uyurkulak, Yıldırım Türker, Jülide Kural, İlham Bakır and Hasan Cemal stood trial.
* On her last defense statement Mater stated "I believe that this trial should be anulled" and thanked the court: "These trials have shown what kind of pressure Özgür Gündem and Kurdish media is facing to the public. As such one should thank you."
* Mater's lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu presented a petition including the exemplary verdicts ECHR has given regarding the Anti-Terror Law, stressed that similar news articles were not prosecuted during the resolution process and argued that interviews with and declarations of illegal organizations are within the scope of the right to information and as such cannot be sentenced. Eyüboğlu also emphasized that the articles are "prosecuted based on where they are published". Mater was sentenced to a year and 3 months in prison which was suspended and to 6000 TL judiciary fine.
* Jülide Kural and İlham Bakır's hearing was postponed to March 28, 14:45 as Kural was not able to attend. Lawyers' demand for the case to be considered unconstitutional will be evaluated.
* Hasan Cemal gave his last defense statement, his lawyer Fikret İlkiz presented his evaluation that the case is unconstitutional. His demand that the case is sent to the Supreme Court was rejected. Hasan Cemal was acquitted from the charges of "terrorist organization propaganda" but he was sentenced to 6000 TL judiciary fine for “publishing terrorist organization declaration”.
*Murat Uyurkulak’s lawyer Hürrem Sönmez argued that freedom of expression is a part of Uyurkulak’s act of life as he is an author, therefore it is his responsibility to defend this freedom. Sönmez demanded his acquittal. Court has sentenced Uyurkulak to 15 months in prison on the charges of “terrorist organization propaganda”, the sentence was suspended.
* In her defense statement, Yıldırım Türker’s lawyer Emel Ataktürk stated that the journalists do not have to use the same terms with the state, that it is within the scope of press freedom that press uses its own terminology. She underlined that no matter how harsh it is, criticism can not be considered terrorist organization propaganda. Türker was sentenced to 1 year 10 months 15 days in prison, his sentence was suspended.
* On March 9, Faruk Balıkçı, Necmiye Alpay, Derya Okatan, Dicle Anter, Kumru Başer and Ayşe Batumlu’s hearings continued.
* Upon her lawyer’s request, Necmiye Alpay’s case was sent to 23.Assize Court where Özgür Gündem main case is prosecuted. The hearing will resume on March 28, 15:15.
* Faruk Balıkçı was acquitted from the charge of “terrorist organization propaganda”, but was sentenced to 6000 TL judiciary fine.
* Dicle Anter and Derya Okatan was sentenced to 7000 TL judiciary fine on the charge of “publishing illegal organization declaration”.
* Kumru Başer and Ayşe Batumlu Kaya were both sentenced to 1 year 3 months in prison on the charges of “terrorist organization propaganda”, their sentences were suspended.
On March 21, we were at Çağlayan Courthouse for Özgür Gündem Editors on Watch Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Nesin, who were arrested last June and were later released. A warrant was issued for Ahmet Nesin, as he was not present at the hearing, demanding that his defense statement is taken. The hearing was postponed to June 8, 11:40. Many representatives of international civil society organizations were present to monitor the trial and read their solidarity messages at the press statement. You may watch a part of the statement with subtitles on the video below. Here is a list of the monitoring organizations:
German Medical Association, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, International Human Rights Federation, International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organizations, Jiyan Foundation, Amnesty Germany, Amnesty Germany Physicians Group, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Germany
Please check the CTL database calendar which is constantly updated, to follow the postponed hearings.