Jailed journalist İdris Yılmaz’s first hearing held in Van

6 December 2018

Erhan Akbaş, Van - Jailed journalist İdris Yılmaz’s first case hearing in which Yılmaz is charged with ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ was held at Van 5. High Criminal Court.

Journalist İdris Yılmaz, defended by MLSA Legal Unit’s Zelal Pelin Doğan, appeared before Van 5. High Criminal Court today. Yılmaz was initially arrested on 22 January, due to his critical social media posts regarding the Turkish Army’s military operation in Afrin. He was charged with ‘inciting the public towards hatred and animosity’, and he was supposed to be released on 16 May, however, he was arrested again from a separate case which was initiated in February 2018, on ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ charges.

Yılmaz joined the hearing via the judicial conferencing system, and said, “I have worked as a journalist for years, in Erciş. My news reports consisted of public officials’ malpractices. I was constantly targeted because of my news reports, I was beaten and threatened. I was told I would be ‘sent to a cell to rot’. I was arrested on 22 January, due to a social media post. The judge that issued my arrest told me he wouldn’t have arrested me if I was an ordinary citizen, and that he had to arrest me because I was a journalist. I was eventually arrested and sent to Elazıp Prison. Afterward, numerous lawsuits were filed against me. I am standing here before this court, based on a statement of a witness, whose face I have never seen before.

Presiding judge: Enough with the storytelling

Yılmaz’s statement was interrupted a number of times by the presiding judge who warned him by saying, “Enough with the storytelling, keep it short.” Yılmaz’s lawyer Savaş Avcı noted that his client was a well-known journalist in the province and said, “My client was targeted, battered and threatened a number of times due to his reporting. The indictment consists of contradictory witness statements and we think this whole case is a conspiracy. I request my client’s release.”

Lawyer Doğan criticized the panel’s attitude towards Yılmaz and said, “The judicial panel is preventing my client from submitting his defense. He is constantly interrupted. This is a violation of his right to fair trial.” Doğan then requested extra time to prepare Yılmaz’s written defense statement.

Prosecutor submits his final opinion

Following the defense statements, the prosecutor submitted his final opinion, requesting the Yılmaz to be punished and remain in detention. The court ruled to keep Yılmaz in prison and adjourned the hearing until 3 January.