Seven are sentenced, all defendants are released in the Gün Publishing House trial

12 March 2019
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In the trial where the owner and employees of Gün Publishing House faced terror-related charges, 2 people received sentences for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization,” and 5 people received sentences for “membership in a terrorist organization" while the court released all defendants who have been tried whilst in detention for the past year.

İstanbul - In the trial where the owner and 20 employees of Gün Publishing House, which has since been handed over to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), stand trial on “membership in a terrorist organization” and “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization” charges, 5 people received 7 years and 6 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization” and 2 people received 3 years and 9 months in prison for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.” Other defendants were acquitted.

İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court ruled to release the five defendants who have been tried whilst in detention until their sentences are officially approved.

The fact that nearly 100 publications published by the Gün Publishing House were pulled of the shelves, ongoing trials of the writers that Gün has published, and that Özgürlükçü Demokrasi daily was published by them were among the evidence included in the indictment of the case where 12 people (owner Kasım Zengin and employees İrfan Karaca, Mahmut Abay, Cemal Tunç, Erdoğan Zamur, İhsan Sinmiş, Kazım Göçer, Mehmet Emin Sürmeli, Musa Kaya, Sadettin Demirtaş, Necat Hizarcı, Polat Arslan) were charged with “membership in a terrorist organization” and 9 people (employees Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Mürsel Demir, Özgür Bozkurt, Cumali Öz, Süleyman Güneş, Kemal Daşdöğen, Derviş Arvas, Muhammet Özkan, Uğur Selman Kelekçiler) were charged with “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.” The prosecutor had presented their opinion as to the accusations during the third hearing.

All copies of publications were presented to the Prosecutor’s Office

The hearing took place in the courtroom located inside the Silivri Penitentiaries Campus. The defendants and their lawyers presented their statements in response to the Prosecutor’s opinion as to the accusations.

Defendants İhsan Sinmiş, Erdoğan Zamur, İrfan Karaca, Kasım Zengin, Mahmut Abay, who have been in pre-trial detention, took the floor in turn and explained their job descriptions at Gün Publishing House. The defendants explained that all copies of newspapers published at their publishing house have been presented to the Prosecutor’s Office, that all the books that they have published had banderoles, further emphasizing that they do not intervene in the content and are not responsible for the content of the publications that they publish.

Lawyers noted that favorable evidence was excluded from the file

The lawyers noted that the publishing house has fulfilled all its obligations per the Press Law and that they do not hold any responsibility for the content of the publications that they publish, adding that the prosecution had intentionally collected evidence against Gün Publishing House and that the trial has not been fair.

Lawyer Serhat Çakmak argued that the case lacks solid evidence that backs up the allegations, stating that assumptions have been presented as evidence. He added that many vital documents have been excluded from the file in order to create the perception that Gün Publishing House is an illegal institution.

Lawyer Emrah Baran stated that the publications mentioned in the indictment make up roughly 5 percent of the publications that are published by Gün Publishing House. Lawyer İlknur Alcan Gün pointed out that while Özgürlükçü Demokrasi daily was published there, the publishing house also published other periodicals with entirely different editorial policies, including pro-government publications and presented 15 copies of Damga newspaper to the court.

Defense lawyers have stated that their explanations and defense statements regarding the allegations have not been evaluated thoroughly by the prosecution and the panel of judges, noting that the prosecutor’s opinion which was presented during the third hearing is almost an exact copy of the indictment.

Many of the lawyers noted that the accusations and their supporting arguments have been extremely vague, reminding the court of the Court of Cassation’s relevant rulings regarding the necessary criteria for “membership in a terrorist organization” accusations.

The court released all defendants

Following a two-hour break for deliberation, İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court announced the verdict and decided to release all defendants who have been in pre-trial detention until their sentence gets approved.

İhsan Sinmiş, Erdoğan Zamur, İrfan Karaca, Kasım Zengin, Mahmut Abay, who have been detained since April 2018, received 7 years and 6 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Mehmet Emin Sümeli and Musa Kaya, who were released on 11 February 2019, received 3 years and 9 months in prison for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”

Uğur Selman Kelekçiler’s case was discerned since he has a medical report showing that he does not have criminal liability for another case and is currently receiving treatment at Bakırköy Psychiatric Hospital.  

Defendants Cemal Tunç, Kazım Göçer, Sadettin Demirtaş, Necat Hizarcı, Polat Arslan, Mehmet Kadir Özkara, Mürsel Demir, Özgür Bozkurt, Cumali Öz, Süleyman Güneş, Kemal Daşdöğen, Derviş Arvas, Muhammet Özkan were acquitted.