18 Lawyers sentenced to long prison terms
On 20 March 2019, the Istanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court in Silivri Court House sentenced 18 lawyers to prison sentences between 3 years and 2 months and 19 years.
The lawyers, from Halkın Hukuk Bürosu (HHB, Peoples’ Law Office) and Ҫağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (ҪHD, Progressive Lawyers Association), were arrested in September and November 2017. Six of them were in pre-trial detention at the time of the verdict. One of the accused lawyers is Selçuk Kozağaçlı, president of the ҪHD.
The court issued the following verdicts:
- Barkın Timtik was sentenced to 19 years for allegedly ‘founding and managing a terrorist organisation’.
Eleven lawyers were sentenced for ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’:
- Ebru Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz to 13,5 years
- Behiç Aşçı and Sukriye Erden to 12 years
- Selçuk Kozağaçlı to 11 years and 3 months
- Suleyman Gokten, Aytaç Ünsal and Engin Gökoğlu to 10.5 years
- Aycan Çiçek and Naciye Demir to 9 years
- Ezgi Cakir to 8 years
Six Lawyers were sentenced for ‘willingly and knowingly aiding a terrorist organisation’:
- Ayşegül Çağatay, Yağmur Ereren, Didem Baydar Ünsal and Yaprak Türkmen to 3 years and 9 months
- Ahmet Mandacı and Zehra Özdemir to 3 years and 2 months.
The court hearings in this case were observed by a large group of international observers, including members of Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch. A general observation of the observers was that the court disregarded the requests and statements of the defense completely, contrary to the rule of law and the principles of a fair trial.
Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch visited the Peoples’ Law Office in May 2018. We were informed by the remaining lawyers, who were in close contact with their detained colleagues, that evidence of the accusations was lacking completely and that the arrested lawyers were questioned about their clients and their work. They pointed out that the case is politically motivated and that the lawyers are prosecuted for their legitimate work as lawyers, in violation of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers; particularly article 16 that instructs governments to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference, and shall not suffer prosecution for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
Lawyers for Lawyers and Fair Trial Watch are gravely concerned about the situation of lawyers in Turkey in general and these sentences in particular. We urge the Turkish authorities to reconsider this case and release the lawyers that are still detained as soon as possible.
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