Court decides to release Kemal Sancılı in Özgür Gündem main trial

10 April 2019

İstanbul - Twelfth hearing of the trial where nine of since shuttered Özgür Gündem daily’s writers and editorial board members face terror-related charges resumed at İstanbul 23rd High Criminal court today.

The court ruled to release the newspaper’s former publisher and detained defendant Kemal Sancılı for this case; however, Sancılı will remain in prison while he serves a sentence from a conviction in a separate case.

Writers and editorial board members including Filiz Koçali, Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay, Ragıp Zarakolu, Bilge Aykut; Editor-in-Chief Zana (Bilir) Kaya, Managing Editor İnan Kızılkaya, writer Eren Keskin and publisher Kemal Sancılı face “disrupting the unity and integrity of the state,” “establishing an organization for the purpose of committing crimes,” and “terrorist propaganda” charges.

Eren Keskin: "I find this trial tragicomic"

Detained defendant Kemal Sancılı was brought to the courtroom in person to present his defense statement and requested his release. In her statement, defendant Eren Keskin said, “I had my name written down as a voluntary Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper in solidarity because I support their right to publish. I do not think that what I did constitutes a crime. I find this trial tragicomic.”

Following the defense statements, lawyer Özcan Kılıç took the floor and demanded Sancılı’s release on the ground there is no suspicion for him to flee. Kılıç stated that they would not present a statement regarding the digital materials during this hearing, and demanded Eren Keskin’s case at the 13th High Criminal Court to be merged with this one.

Aslı Erdoğan’s lawyer Erdal Doğan noted that the confiscated digital materials do not have any criminal elements and added, “The allegations are unacceptable. All books found in Aslı Erdoğan’s apartment are legal. All kinds of books could be found in a writer’s home. Some books on Kurds were found during the police raid and these books are presented as evidence against her. We demand her acquittal.”

Following the defense statements, the prosecutor requested Sancılı’s release while taking the time period that he’s been detained for. Following a short break for deliberation, the court decided to release Sancılı in this case. However, Sancılı was convicted in a separate case that was being held at the 13th Criminal Court. The court also ruled to write a letter to the 13th Criminal Court in order to merge Keskin’s files. The court also sent the file over to the prosecutor for the final opinion as to the accusation to be prepared. The trial is adjourned until 3 July.