Journalist Yılmaz receives a 6-year and 3-month prison sentence

3 January 2019

Van - Journalist İdris Yılmaz, defended by MLSA, was on trial today at Van 5. High Criminal Court. Court sentenced Yılmaz to 6 years and 3 months in prison, on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges. 

Yılmaz remarked in his defense that in his trial, not only himself was being targeted but also the profession of journalism itself. Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) Legal Unit’s Zelal Pelin Doğan noted that the defense was ‘disenabled’ during the proceedings. She underlined the fact that none of their requests were accepted by the court and that they had carried Yılmaz’s case to the Constitutional Court on 31 December, 2018. She added, “We will bring İdris’s case before the Appeal Court, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) if needed.”

Yılmaz: Journalism is on target 

Jailed since 22 January 2018, İdris Yılmaz was charged with ‘inciting the public towards hatred and animosity’ due to his social media posts criticizing the Turkish Army’s military operation in Syria’s Afrin. Another investigation was initiated against him, this time on ‘membership in a terrorist organization’ charges in February 2018, which led to him being rearrested on 16 May 2018, after being released pending trial from his previous case.

Yılmaz’s second hearing was held at Van 5. High Criminal Court. His lawyers requested him to be physically brought to court to defend himself, however their request was rejected by the panel of judges. He joined the hearing via the judicial conferencing system, SEGBİS from Elazığ Prison where he is being held. He noted that his case was targeting journalism as a profession and said, “I have been targeted due to my news reports many times. I was told I would ‘rot’ between four walls.”

Court ignored the requests

Yılmaz’s defense statement was interrupted numerous times by the presiding judge. Due to technical issues regarding the conferencing link SEGBİS, Yılmaz was not able to defend himself properly. The lawyers reminded that Yılmaz’s defense was interrupted several times due to technical issues, and requested him to be brought to court physically. The court rejected the defense lawyers’ requests and sentenced Yılmaz to 6 years and 3 months in prison on “membership in a terrorist organization” charges.

Yılmaz’s case to be brought before Appeal Court and Court of Cassation

Noting that they made a Constitutional Court application on behalf of Yılmaz on 31 December, claiming that his right to liberty and security and his right to fair trial were violated, Doğan said, “The defense is disenabled during the proceedings. None of our requests were accepted. Now, the Appeal Court and Court of Cassation are next. We will be bringing the case before the ECtHR if needed.”