Lawyers for Lawyers monitors hearings in Istanbul
This week Lawyers for Lawyers observed two hearings in the cases in which a large number of lawyers are being prosecuted. One of the hearings was adjourned to October 2015.
Lawyers for Lawyers monitored two hearings in the trials against Turkish lawyers in Istanbul on 7 and 13 May 2015. On 7 May, the trial against the 46 Turkish lawyers who are accused of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organisation” continued. L4L observed all the hearings in this case (July and November 2012, January, March, June, September and December 2013 and November 2014).
In 2012, the case started at a special court. In 2014, these special courts were abolished by law and the ongoing criminal cases were referred to the ordinary courts. The defense of the 46 lawyers are of the opinion that this is contrary to the Constitution and international law and has therefore asked the court to submit the case for review to the Constitutional Court. The court rejected this request (again), but adjourned the case until October 22, 2015, pending a decision in another case about whether or not a the cases should be referred to the Constitutional Court.
Background of the case
On November 22, 2011, a broad campaign of arrests was launched in 16 cities targeting 46 lawyers, in the context of the case against the Koma Civakên Kurdistan (KCK, Union of Communities in Kurdistan). The Turkish authorities regard the KCK as the local branch of the banned Kurdish labour party PKK. The majority of the suspected lawyers is (or was) involved in the defence of Abdullah Öcalan. According to the office of the prosecutor, the suspects have communicated instructions from Öcalan to his supporters. The lawyers are accused of “working for, or belonging to, a terrorist organisation.” It seems that those accusations are merely based on legitimate professional activities of the lawyers involved.
After the closure of the special courts and the lowering of the maximum period of pre-trial detention to five years, the last nine lawyers and a journalist were released on March 18, 2014, after spending almost 2 ½ years in pre-trial detention.
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