5 people released in the ETHA reporters and EHB lawyers case

16 July 2018
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Elif Akgül, İSTANBUL - The first hearing of the case in which 13 journalists and lawyers were jailed pending trial, including İsminaz Temel, Havva Cuştan, Özlem Gümüştaş and Sezin Uçar, was held in İstanbul 27th Criminal Court on July 16-17, 2018.

On October 19, 2017 the police raided the home addresses of ETHA reporters’ and lawyer members of the Law Bureau of the Oppressed, taking 16 people into custody. 13 of them were arrested 6 days later, on October 25.

The bill of indictment prepared by the prosecutor included statements of anonymous witnesses and accusations against 23 people. It was admitted by the court on March 22, 2018. One of the accusations was "membership in an armed terrorist organisation" based on article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code and article 5/1 of the Anti-Terror Law. The other accusation was "terrorist propaganda" based on article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law.

A total of 23 people are being tried in the case in which the prosecutor accuses the defendants of "membership in a terrorist organisation" and "terrorist propaganda". The court board made its interim decision and released 5 of the 13 arrestees on probation and imposed them a ban on leaving the country.  ETHA (Etkin News Agency) reporters Havva Cuştan, İsmail Geçer, Meral Tatar, Onur Binbir and Özgen Saadet were released whereas 13 people remain imprisoned including members of the EHB (Law Bureau of the Oppressed) Özlem Gümüştaş, Sezin Uçar and Etkin News Agency reporter İsminaz Temel.

The İstanbul 27th Criminal Court that is trying the suit is known for trying the cases of the armed attack that took place in Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve 2017, and Cumhuriyet daily newspaper. Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ presided over the trial in the first few hours of the hearing. However he recused himself from the case after the news of his appointment to the Supreme Court appeared in various media outlets. Halit İçdemir, a member of the court board took over Dağ’s duty as the presiding judge, whose name became prominent after he annotated the "continuation of detention" decisions made by the court board in the Cumhuriyet case.

LAWYER KAYA: THIS UNLAWFULNESS MUST COME TO AN END

The hearing went on for 2 days where the imprisoned defendants Coşkun Yiğit, Erkan Kakça, Havva Cuştan, Hünkar Hüdayi Yurtsever, İlhan Aslan, İsmail Geçer, İsminaz Temel, Mazlum Demirtaş, Meral Tatar, Onur Binbir, Özgen Saadet, Özlem Gümüştaş and Sezin Uçar made their defenses. Defendant lawyer Gülhan Kaya made her defense as well. The defendants rejected all the accusations mentioned in the bill of indictment. They stated that the ESP (Socialist Party of the Oppressed) is a legal party, all the commemoration events and concerts were legally organised and none of them faced a police intervention.

Gülhan Kaya, a member lawyer of EHB, who is also one of the defendants in the case, stated: "10 of us are not under arrest, the only difference between us and the arrestees is that we were absent in our homes on the day of the arrests."

She added: "6 months ago, before the referendum, there were search warrants in our names on the grounds that we could organize a sensational demonstration. Our friends got arrested. We all know that we are facing these trials because we refuse to button up our jackets before the government. There is no difference between us, who are released on probation and our colleagues who are arrested on the grounds that they might abscond. This unlawfulness must to an end."

The prosecutor demanded the continuation of detention of all the defendants, whereas the court released 5 people on probation and adjourned the hearing to November 29, 2018.