L4L observed hearing in the CHD-1 trial
12 July 2019

L4L observed hearing in the CHD-1 trial

Turkey

On 10 July 2019 representatives of Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), together with lawyers from France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland, observed a hearing in the so-called CHD-1 case. In this case L4L-award laureate Selçuk Kozağaçlı is one of the 22 lawyers accused of terrorist related activities.

Background

The CHD-1 case started in January 2013, when 15 lawyers were arrested and their offices were searched. The lawyers were all working for Halkın Hukuk Bürosu (Peoples’ Law Office) and member of lawyers organization CHD. After 4 days of pre-trial detention, 6 lawyers were released while 9 others stayed in prison. Later, 22 lawyers were charged: two of leading a terrorist organization, one of trying to overthrow the constitutional order, the others with membership of a terrorist organization. At the first court hearing in December 2013, 4 of the lawyers still in pre-trial detention were released; in March 2014 the others.

The accusations against the lawyers are based on legal documents stemming from criminal cases in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2004, on the testimonies of 5 witnesses (of whom only one has testified in person) and on the fact that the lawyers advised their clients, accused of terrorism, that they had the right to remain silent. After the attempted coup on 15 July 2016, all prosecutors and judges in this case were arrested and charged with falsifying evidence. It also became apparent that the only witness that had testified in person in this case worked together with the police. Nevertheless, the evidence they produced is used to base the charges on.

In September and November 2017, again 17 lawyers of Halkın Hukuk Bürosu were arrested and accused of terrorism, based on the same evidence as in the CHD-1 case. In this so-called CHD-2 case, on 20 March 2019 the lawyers were convicted to long prison sentences.

From the 22 lawyers standing trial in the CHD-1 case, 6 of them are in prison because of this sentence; one of them is Selçuk Kozağaçlı. Three lawyers fled abroad.

The hearing of 10 July 2019

During the hearing two of the accused lawyers, Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Ebru Timtık, made a statement. Selçuk Kozağaçlı first referenced that he had won the L4L-award and thanked the international observers for observing the trial.

Then he requested the court to give an order to the prison to give him complete access to his file. Due to the size of the file (about 100.000 pages) the only way to access the file is through digital means. Only after the intervention of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, who visited Turkey in the beginning of July 2019, he was allowed access to a computer for the first time only one week before the hearing, but he fears this right will be withdrawn again.

His second request was based on the principle of ne bis in idem, which in Turkish law is laid down in article 223 item 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Eight lawyers standing trial in the CHD-1 case were already convicted in the CHD-2 case on the basis of the same evidence as used in the CHD-1 case. Mr Kozağaçlı requested the court to separate their cases from the others in the CHD-1 case and dismiss these cases.

The court denied the first request, motivating its decision with the surprising reasoning that mr Kozağaçlı already has access to the file since he has access to the file in the CHD-2 case. The decision on the second request is postponed. In the CHD-2 case the regional court is expected to decide on the first step in the appeal procedure against the verdict of 20 March 2019 in the fall. The next hearing in the CHD-1 case is on 25 December 2019.

Although our colleague-lawyers seemed moderately optimistic about the outcome of this particular case, many more cases are pending and the repression and persecution of lawyers in Turkey is continuing. Therefore, L4L will keep monitoring cases against lawyers.

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