L4L observed hearing in the CHD-1 trial
On 1 June 2022 representatives of Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), together with Lawyers from Italy, 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.
The hearing started with a chant of the defendants as they entered the courtroom honoring one of their fellow defendants who had died of a hunger strike in August 2020: ‘Ebru Timtik is immortal’.
The court informed the defendants that the long-awaited evidence from the Netherlands and Belgium had not come back from the forensic institute yet and that it was therefore presumably still under investigation. The hearing then turned to whether the pre-trial detention of the defendants should be prolonged.
The lawyers of the defendants pointed out that the evidence of this case was not lawfully obtained, and that the lawyers had been unlawfully monitored. Furthermore, they stated that Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Barkın Timtik had already been allowed to leave pre-trial detention by a judge in the 2013/2014 proceedings, and that the court should follow this example.
The defendant Selçuk Kozağaçlı plead for their release. He assured the court that they would not attempt to flee and accept their arrest if they were to be convicted. Barkın Timtik, Oya Aslan, and Özgür Yılmaz too brought forward arguments for why their detention was unlawful. Nevertheless, the court rejected the requests to release the defendants and adjourned the next hearing to the 7th of September 2022.
The pre-trial detention and the adjournments of the hearings infringes on the defendants right to a fair trial. L4L will continue to monitor this case closely.
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. While these were appealed, the court of cassation upheld the verdict in September 2020 except for Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Barkın Timtik, with the reasoning that they are being prosecuted for the same offences in the ҪHD-1 case.
From the 22 lawyers standing trial in the CHD-1 case, 4 of them are in prison because of this sentence; Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Barkın Timtik are still in pre-trial detention. Three lawyers fled abroad.
Oya Aslan – also a member of ҪHD and working for the People’s Law Office – was arrested on 20 December 2019, and is also charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation, based on the same evidence as in the ҪHD-1 case. At first her case was handled separately from the ҪHD-1 case, but in March 2022 the cases have been merged.
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