Court refuses to release imprisoned journalist Kibriye Evren

16 April 2019

Diyarbakır –  Fourth hearing of the trial where Jin News reporter and journalist Kibriye Evren faces “membership in a terrorist organization” and “terrorist propaganda” charges resumed at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court today. Evren is tried whilst in detention and has been detained for over six months now. The prosecutor demanded Evren to be punished with up to 20 years in prison for “membership” and “propaganda charges. The court ruled for the continuation of Evren’s detention and adjourned the trial until 7 May.

This case was opened on the basis of testimonies from secret witnesses and Evren’s journalistic activities and her social media posts were presented as evidence against her. Evren was arrested on 9 October 2018 in Diyarbakır and has been detained ever since.

The fourth hearing of the trial was held at Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court today. Journalist Evren could not attend the hearing because she’s been on hunger strike for the last 122 days and her health has deteriorated to the extent that she does not have the strength to come to the court house. Her lawyers were present in the courtroom.

Diyarbakır-based Free Journalists’ Initiative (ÖGİ) spokesperson Hakkı Boltan, Evren’s relatives and many journalists attended the hearing as well.

The prosecutor took the floor first and presented his final opinion as to the accusation. The prosecutor claimed that Kibriye Evren belonged to the organizational structure of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), further alleging that three separate secret witness testimonies suggest that Evren was responsible for KCK’s press branch. Arguing that Evren’s connection to the organization becomes evident when taking all collected evidence into consideration, the prosecutor stated that Evren had indeed committed the imputed crime and must be punished for “membership in a terrorist organization” charges.

The prosecutor also alleged that journalist Kibriye Evren’s social media posts justified the organization’s violent and threatening methods, further claiming that Evren had made propaganda for the organization through press and demanded her to be punished for this crime as well. The prosecutor demanded the continuation of Kibriye Evren’s detainment, arguing that that’s the only sufficient judicial measure considering the imputed crime’s nature, significance, existing state of the evidence and strong criminal suspicion.

Evren’s lawyer Pirozhan Karali took the floor next and demanded additional time to prepare a defense in response to the prosecutor’s opinion. Karali told the court that he would present a statement about his client’s detainment. Karali noted that Evren is in poor health and that her health conditions are deteriorating by the day due to the hunger strike she’s been on. Karali added that his client cannot even come out her cell for regular lawyer visits. Noting that Evren has already been detained for a lengthy period, Karali demanded the release of his client because of her health problems.

Lawyer Resul Temur stated that many other defendants who have been indicted on the basis of this same secret witness who has provided testimonies against Kibriye Evren have been acquitted in other cases. Temur requested these individuals to be called as witnesses. Temur also noted that for his client to present her defense statement in the best way possible, it was crucial for the court to release her from prison prior to announcing a verdict.

Following a short break for deliberation, the court announced the interim decisions. The court rejected the request to call acquitted individuals who were previously indicted based on testimonies from the same secret witness. The court also ruled that a copy of the official record of the proceedings including the prosecutor’s final opinion to be delivered to Kibriye Evren in person and ruled for the continuation of her detainment. Agreeing to give the defense lawyers additional time to prepare their final statements, the court adjourned the trial until 7 May.