Prosecutor requests punishment of Önderoğlu, Korur-Fincancı and Nesin

27 February 2019

İstanbul - The prosecutor requested the punishment of Erol Önderoğlu, Ahmet Nesin and Şebnem Korur-Fincancı, who had participated in the "Editor-in-Chief-On-Watch" solidarity campaign launched by Özgür Gündem newspaper, during the ninth hearing of the trial which was held at İstanbul 13. High Criminal Court today.

The defendants who participated in the solidarity campaign for Özgür Gündem newspaper which was shut down with No.675 decree law, are accused of “spreading terrorist propaganda”. Writer Ahmet Nesin who has been living in France for 2 years was absent in the hearing whereas Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey Chair Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur-Financı, as well as their lawyers Oya Meriç Eyüboğlu, Özcan Kılıç and Tora Pekin were present in the courtroom.

The hearing was monitored by representatives from Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA), RSF Germany and Europe, Human Rights Association, Amnesty International, Helsinki Citizens Assembly and the French Consulate.

Prosecutor replaced

The ninth hearing of the trial started with the newly-assigned prosecutor reading his final opinion. He requested the punishment of Önderoğlu, Korur-Fincancı and Nesin, in accordance with Articles 44, 53/1, 63, 214/1 and 215/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), as well as Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK).

The panel of judges asked whether the defense lawyers had anything to say regarding the prosecutor’s final opinion. Remarking the prosecutor being newly-appointed, lawyer Oya Meriç Eyüboğlu noted they were informed the final opinion was not yet prepared yesterday and that the prosecutor’s opinion was faulty in relation to both its content and from a technical perspective. She said, "The final opinion does not clearly state with what the defendants are charged. What are they accused of? These headlines? Or their content? Which expressions constitute spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization? There are only a few headlines from news reports and this causes the final opinion to be problematic."

A dispute arose among the presiding judge Ali Günay and lawyer Eyüboğlu regarding the content of the prosecutor’s final opinion. Günay said, "If only the headlines are within the quotation marks, then it means we will take those parts into consideration. Look, we have an audience here. We are an independent judicial organ, and you are implying that we will automatically punish everyone without conducting a proper evaluation." Günay’s words were met with laughter among the audience.

Afterward, lawyer Özcan Kılıç noted that the whole trial process had nothing to contribute to the existing final opinion and said, "No investigation was done regarding whether the clients had any contracts with the daily, which would indicate that they had agreed to the position as Editor-in-Chief accordingly with the procedures described in the indictment, despite their name being published only once at the copyright page of the newspaper. Therefore, the prosecutor’s final opinion being submitted without such investigation, is not right. We had already requested for this to be investigated, we are now repeating our request."

Following their criticisms about the final opinion, the defense lawyers requested extra time to prepare their statements. The panel of judges granted the defense extra time, rejected their request for the reformation of the final opinion, and adjourned the hearing until 15 April.