Judge recused himself from Veysel Ok’s case

17 July 2018
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The judge recused himself from MLSA Coordinator Attorney Veysel Ok’s case in which Ok is being tried for "publicly denigrating the judicial institutions of the state".

Veysel Ok, who is an attorney of MLSA (Media and Law Studies Association) is accused of "publicly denigrating the judicial institutions of the state" due to his criticisms about the Turkish judiciary in an interview he gave which was published in Özgür Düşünce daily newspaper on December 25, 2015. Former Özgür Düşünce reporter Cihan Acar, who is being tried for interviewing Ok, did not attend the hearing. The hearing was observed by the director and members of MLSA, representatives of Lawyers for Lawyers, Fair Trial Watch and Swiss Democratic Lawyers.

GÜNGÖR: OK POINTED OUT THE UNLAWFUL ACTS

Ok’s attorney Cihan Özgüneş Güngör repeated his previous statements about timeout regarding the case. Güngör said: "We object to the fact that criminal action was taken after 4 months. A 2015 dated interview of my client is in question here. Veysel works in media, and he is an expert over the issue. He stated the unlawful acts he faced at criminal courts of peace. The problems he remarked 3 years ago still exist today. Critical statements cannot be considered a crime. Free speech ensures the society’s right to information. There is no moral element involved in my client’s statements, and there is no intention of insult." Güngör demanded Ok’s acquittal.

OK: I STOOD UP FOR JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

Ok stated that he has been a lawyer for 13 years. He added: "I defended hundreds of journalists and followed the most significant legal cases in Turkey. My statement was not intended as an insult but as criticism of judicial independence in Turkey. I stood up for the independence of the judiciary. Criticism falls within the ambit of freedom of expression. I demand my acquittal."

JUDGE RECUSED HIMSELF FROM THE CASE

The judge stated his decision after the defense statements and recused himself from the case on the grounds that he cannot remain impartial with Ok because he defended journalist Ahmet Altan in a past trial where the judge himself was a plaintiff-participant (non-judicial role). The judge sent the case to İstanbul Criminal Court on Duty for the assignment of a new judge and adjourned the case to November 22.