Court of Cassation upholds the prison sentences of all lawyers from the ÇHD
On 15 September 2020, the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation has ruled that the convictions of all ÇHD lawyers, except for Barkın Timtik, Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Ezgi Çakır, shall be upheld.
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 the Halkın Hukuk Bürosu (HHB, the Peoples’ Law Office) and Çağdaş Hukukçular Derneği (ÇHD, the Progressive Lawyers Association) were arrested in September and November 2017. Six of them were in pre-trial detention at the time of the verdict.
On 15 September 2020, the Court of Cassation handed down its ruling regardering the lawyers put on trial as part of the ÇHD case.
Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal
Taking into account that Ebru Timtik died while on hunger strike on 27 August 2020, the Chamber decided that there is no ground to hand down a judgement for Ebru Timtik. Moreover, the Chamber has ruled that the execution of Aytaç Ünsal’s sentence will be suspended until he recovers.
Barkın Timtik, Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Ezgi Çakır
The files of the following three lawyers will be examined and a new hearing before the 37th of the Heavy Penal Court will take place.
- Barkın Timtik: the Chamber has ruled that the case of Barkın Timtik, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for allegedly ‘founding and managing a terrorist organisation’, shall be evaluated together with the case where she stands trial for “being member of an armed terrorist organization”.
- Selçuk Kozağaçlı: the Chamber has ruled that the case of Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who was sentenced to 11 years and 3 months in prison for alleged ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’, shall be evaluated together with the case where he is facing charges of allegedly “managing an armed terrorist organization”.
- Ezgi Çakır: was previously sentenced to 8 years in prison for alleged “membership of a terrorist organisation”. However, the Chamber ruled that Ezgi Çakır should be charged for “knowingly and willingly aiding an armed terrorist organization”.
The following prison sentences were upheld:
- Özgür Yılmaz: 13 years and 6 months
- Behiç Aşçı and Şükriye Erden: 12 years
- Engin Gökoğlu and Süleyman Gökten: 10 years and 6 months
- Ayçan Çiçek and Naciye Demir: 9 years
- Ayşegül Çağatay, Yağmur Ereren, Didem Baydar Ünsal and Yaprak Türkmen to 3 years and 9 months.
It should be mentioned that while the Court of Cassation approved the sentences of Naciye Demir, Özgür Yılmaz, Sükriye Erden, it did underline that the Istanbul 18th of Heavy Penal Court should close the case against these lawyers. Since these lawyers are also defendants before the 18th of Heavy Penal Court with the same accusation, the Court of Cassation mentioned the principle of non bis idem.
Rapporteurs from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have expressed their concern over the situation of lawyers in Turkey after a series of worrying developments – including the decision of the Court of Cassation to uphold heavy prison sentences against the lawyers who have been mentioned in this article.
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