Trial of Özgür Gündem staff adjourned until 21 May

8 May 2019
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İstanbul - The trial of the co-editors-in-chief of the shuttered Özgür Gündem daily, the newspaper’s managing editor bearing legal responsibility for its content and 20 of its columnists resumed on 8 May in the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court.

Hüseyin Güçlü, one of the defendants in the trial, appeared in court via the SEGBİS video-link system, giving testimony in Kurdish via a translator. Before starting his own testimony, Güçlü stressed the current situation of prison inmates who are on a hunger strike to protest against the solitary confinement of the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Güçlü, who is on trial over an article printed in Özgür Gündem in March 2016 said the concerned article sought to highlight the events that took place in the southeastern districts of Cizre and Sur, where Turkish security forces conducted operations that resulted in alleged human rights violations in the area in late 2015 and early 2016. The prosecutor submitted his final statement that he had given in the previous hearing one more time without any modifications.

Lawyer Özcan Kılıç, who represents the defendants in the trial, requested for a second time that another case against former Co-Editor-in-Chief of Özgür Gündem which is being heard by the Istanbul 23rd High Criminal Court be merged with this case file. His request was not entered into the record of proceedings, unofficially yet effectively being denied one more time.

The court accepted the defence’s request for extra time and adjourned the trial until 21 May.

Background

The Özgür Gündem newspaper was shut down on 30 October  2016 under Cabinet Decree 675 during Turkey’s post-coup-attempt State of Emergency. Various trials where Co-Editors-in-Chief Eren Keskin and Hüseyin Aykol, Managing Editor legally liable for publication content Reyhan Çapan and columnists Filiz Koçali, Ayşe Berktay, Nuray Özdoğan, Celalettin Can, Ayşe Batumlu, Reyhan Hacıoğlu, Bülent Alp, Cemal Bozkurt, Çetin Ulu, Emrullah Kurcan, Ruhat Kaya, Serbest Zan, Tahir Temel, Enver Baysal, Ergin Atabey, Hasan Başak, Hüseyin Güçlü, İhsan Yorulmaz and  Muzaffer Ayata who faced separate charges of “propaganda of a terrorist organization” , “praising a crime and a criminal” and “openly inciting the public to commit a crime” were merged into a single trial.

Currently, Keskin is a suspect in 47 different trials while Aykol is being tried in 38 cases.