The Chroniques of the Hearings of Peace Academics
December 5, 2017 – The first hearings of 6 academics from Galatasaray University and 4 academics from Istanbul University has been held. The judge had refused the requests of immediate acquittance. The request for changing the scope of the charge from “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation”(Article 7-2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law) to “denigrating Turkey, the Turkish Nation and the Turkish Government” (Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code) has also been refused. All the hearings have been adjourned to April 2018.
Note: The qualification of the alleged crime has a peculiar importance. Not because Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code sets forth a lesser period of imprisonment, but because, as to the decisions of ECHR, it cannot be qualified as a legal as it builds itself on the legally vague concept of “Turkish Nation”. Therefore, the offical qualification of the alleged crime within the scope of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code would make the unlawfulness of the case more visible. Besides, on the case of the 4 academics regarding the daclaration of March 10, 2016, the Ministry of Justice had sent a letter to the relevant court of 13th High Criminal Court to give permission to carry out the judgment in accordance with the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
December 7, 2017 – The first hearings of 31 Academics from Galatasaray University and Istanbul University have been held in different High Criminal Courts in Istanbul.
In the 32th High Criminal Court, the initial hearings of 10 academics have been held. In the first hearing, the relevant academic has chosen to give her testimony. She has declared that her sole intention in undersigning the petition is to contribute to the establishment of peace and she requested her acquittance. Her lawyer argued that she has seen the state as her addressee in the declaration and the intention was peaceful. The lawyer also argued that the attributed crime in the indictment does not exist in the text of the declaration and contrary to the accusation, the text does not defamate Turkish Government but instead, the Government is breaching the international conventions that it has undersigned by ignoring the right to freedom of expression. He also reminded the court about the death threat publily made by a famous mob-leader against the academics and underlined the passivity of the state against these threats. The court refused the request of acquittance and adjourned the case to February 23, 2018.
For the remaining 12 hearings held in that court, all the requests of acquittance were refused. The judges have also refused to hold the trial with regards to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The academics requested additional time to prepare their defences. The hearings were adjourned to December 22th (seven of them) and to February 23th (six of them).
In the 33th High Criminal Court, 11 different academics had their initial hearings. 2 of these 11 academics were absent on hearings and they have been decided to call on a hearing to be held on January 31, 2018. Lawyers of the 8 of the 9 remaining academics have requested immediate acquittance and joinder of the actions regarding other peace academics. One of the lawyers have not requested immediate acquitannce but instead, requested the court to ask for the letter of permission granted to the 13th High Criminal Court that lets the court to judge the 4 academics (that are being judged for their press declaration dated March 10, 2016) in accordance with the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The academics haven’t given their testimony today and the hearings were adjourned to 31th of January (for 8 of the academics) and 8th of February (for 3 of the academics).
In the 34th High Criminal Court, a total number of 12 hearings were held. The court had refused the request of immediate acquittance on the grounds that the defense statements have not been submitted yet. The hearings have been adjourned to May 10, 2018. The request for adjoining the relevant cases has also been refused.
A remarkable incident worth mentioning is that, the court had not let the academics defended by more than three lawyers. Relying on a Governmental Decree (that has been issued witihin the state of exception) the court has only let three lawyers to sit at the defence bench and forced the remaining lawyers to the part of the public audience.