Gizem Edin, İstanbul - Appeal hearing of journalists Ahmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak and Mehmet Altan who were sentenced to life in prison, was held at İstanbul Regional Court 2. Chamber. Court rejected their appeal application and ruled for the continuation of their detention. The decision of the court can be appealed within 15 days.
Ahmet Altan joined the hearing through the judicial conferencing system (SEGBİS), whereas other defendants were present in the courtroom. Hearing was monitored by Debbie Luxon from the English Pen and Republican People's Party (CHP) MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu. Defendants submitted their defense statements against the prosecturo's public opinion and the hearing went on for the whole day.
'Court should ask Recep Aktaş'
Nazlı Ilıcak was the first defendant to speak at the hearing. She repeated her previous defense statement and added: “I have never worked for Zaman newspaper or Samanyolu TV which were known to be owned by the Gulenist movement. I worked with Özgür Düşünce and Can Erzincan TV, which were both owned by Recep Aktaş. If those media outlets are somehow linked to Gulenists, then we should ask Recep Aktaş about it.”
Constitutional Court's decisions regarding Şahin Alpay and Mehmet Altan
Ilıcak mentioned that her lawyers made an application to the Constitutional Court and that her application was sent to the General Board on 5 July. She stated: “Now that the process has started, the General Board will probably review my application in October. My case matches up with the case of Mehmet Altan, therefore we are expecting the court to declare my application as admissable.”
Ilıcak broke into tears during her defense statement and requested her acquittal: “Please end this unlawfulness now. Almost all columnists like me were released. There are Constitutional Court precedents for my case, regarding Alpay and Altan. I have not committed any crime.”
'How can writing and commenting can be considered as 'force and violence'?'
Mehmet Altan criticised the prosecutor's final opinion and asked: “Article 309 starts by stating 'the use of force and violence'. Are we facing an understanding that considers writing and commenting as force and violence here?” He completed his defense statement by reading various paragraphs from the Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decisions which declared his application admissable and decided that his “right to personal freedom and safety” and “right to free expression and press” were violated.
Defendant Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül who was a teaching assistant at the Police Academy criticised the proceeding and said: “I am sentenced to life in prison. There are no evidence presented against me. People should not be tried this easily.”
'Prosecutor is ignoring the decisions of the Constitutional Court'
Ahmet Altan was the last defendant to submit his defense in the hearing. He criticised the prosecutor's final opinion and asked: “Prosecutor accuses us with a crime which has no material outputs but creates 'intangible threats'. He then claims that there is 'evidence' that backs up our crime. How can a crime that has no material outputs have any evidence?”
Altan, “The prosecutor is ignoring the Constitutional Court and its decisions. Article 153 of the Constitution clearly states that all courts are bound by Constitutional Court decisions. However this court is ignoring them. Judge interrupted Altan's statement and warned him that his words 'were exceeding his right to defend himself'.
Altan continued his statement after the interruption of the judge and added: “They want to punish me however, they cannot find any law to back it up. They cannot, and they will not. Because I am right. I do not care to spend my life in a cell because I feel like I am wandering in a comic book. Nothing seems serious or scary to me.”
İstanbul 26. High Criminal Court had sentenced Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Fevzi Yazıcı, Yakup Şimşek and Şükrü Turgut Özşengül to aggravated life in prison on 16 February 2018, whereas Murat Sanlıman was acquitted. Defendants were charged with "attempt to overthrow the constitutional order".
Defense lawyers appealed the verdict and brought the case before İstanbul Regional Court 2. Chamber. İstanbul 2. Regional Court released defendant Mehmet Altan on 18 June 2018, after both the Constitutional Court (decision dating back to 11 January) and European Court of Human Rights (decision dating back to 20 March) decided that his right to freedom and security was violated.