New case against lawyers: Ramazan Demir and Ayse Acinikli kept in jail
On Wednesday 22 June 2016 the criminal trial against twelve lawyers and a group of members of TUHAD-FED, an aid organization that serves as an intermediary between prisoners, relatives and lawyers, started in Istanbul. They had been arrested on March 16th 2016 and were released some days later, but lawyers Ramazan Demir and Ayşe Acinikli were rearrested on April 6th 2016. At the start of the trial Demir, Acinikli and 6 members of TUAD-FED were still in pre-trial detention.
All defendants are accused of being members of a terrorist organization. Ramazan Demir is also accused of terrorist propaganda, mostly due to his tweets about the court cases he filed to the European Court of Human Rights regarding human rights violations in Southeast-Turkey.
The accusations against lawyers Ramazan Demir, Ayse Acinikli, Irfan Arason, Huseyin Bogatekin, Sefik Celik, Adem Calisci, Tamer Dogan, Mustafa Ruzgar, Ayse Gosterislioglu, Sinan Zincir, Raziye Oztuk and Rusen Mahmutoglu allegedly relate to their activities in 2011 and 2013 during the Gezi-protests. Other incriminations are their visits to clients in detention and maintaining contacts with international organizations. During the hearing the evidence, or the lack thereof, was discussed extensively by the accused and their lawyers.
The prosecutor asked the court to release all detainees but the court refused to end the pre-trial detention of Ramazan Demir, Ayse Acinikli and 4 other detainees, on the basis of risk of flight.
The prosecutor specifically claimed that the lawyers are not prosecuted for professional activities and that he therefore did not seek the legally required permission from the minister of Justice to start an investigation against lawyers. However, the court rejected the defense lawyers’s argument that for this reason, the case should be dismissed.
Lawyers for Lawyers is worried about these developments and wishes to emphasize, as did the defense lawyers and the accused lawyers during the trial, that defending clients in criminal proceedings, visiting them in prison and filing cases of human rights violations to the European Court’ are an unalienable part of the professional activities of lawyers . Lawyers are also entitled to freedom of expression and have the right to take part in a public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights, and to join or form (international) organizations, as article 23 of the UN Basic Principles on the role of Lawyers specifically states.
The case was postponed until September 7th 2016. Lawyers for Lawyers will continue to monitor this matter closely and we will keep supporting our colleagues in Turkey.
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