A Year in the Courtroom: The First Anniversary of the Trials Against Academics for Peace (December 5, 2018)

As of December 5, 2018 year has passed since the beginning of the trials of the Academics for Peace. One year ago, the trials against signatories to the petition ‘We will not be a party to this crime’ of the Academics for Peace began at the Çağlayan Courthouse in Istanbul.499 signatories were separately prosecuted in 22 different courts for the crime of“making propaganda for a terrorist organization”.

Since 5thDecember 2017, 418 academics have had their initial hearing, based on the same accusation and the same indictment. During this period, more than one hundred academics made their defense. The defense statements of 122 academics have been individually published on Bianet.  

40 trials have been concluded

During this one year, forty trials have concluded with a verdict. 38 academics have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months of imprisonment, one academic to 1 year and 6 months and another one to 1 year 6 months and 22 days.

The justification for the prison sentences of 1 year and 3 months handed out by 22 different courts were the same for all respective 38 academics. The courts unanimously punished the defendants for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” according to the 1stand 2ndsentences of article 7/2 of the Turkish anti-terror law.

There were remissions in punishments.

Only one sentence was not reduced

The only trial where there was no reduction last year was that of Yonca Güneş Yücel, research assistant at Mimar Sinan University, which took place at the 28thAssize Court last year. The court justified its decision on the basis of “the behavior of the defendant following the crime and during the trial”. Güneş Yücel had not made any statement regarding the deferment of the announcement of the verdict. The court decided to defer the sentence for two years of probation on the basis of its “positive impression that the crime would not be repeated”.

Decision regarding “the action being part of a chain of events”

One exception during the last year is the trial of S.B., who had been dismissed from Bilim University, and whose case was heard at the 13thAssize Court.

The court increased the sentence issued according to article 7/2 of the Turkish anti-terror law because it ruled that the defendant had “carried out the action as part of a chain of events”. It sentenced the academic to 1 year 10 months and 15 days of imprisonment, reduced to 1 year 6 months and 22 days because of the defendant’s behavior and attitude during the trial.


The announcement of the verdict was not deferred in the case of two

In the case of 36 people, the announcement of the verdict was deferred.

Deferment of the announcement of the verdict

When it is decided to defer the announcement of the trial, the verdict will be annulled if the defendant does not commit a further offense within five years.

Article 231 of the Code of Criminal Procedure includes the following:

“When a decision is made for the deferment of the announcement of the verdict, the defendant is subject to a probation period of five years. If no other offence is committed intentionally during the probation period and the liabilities of the probation is observed by the defendant, the deferred verdict is abolished and discontinuance of action is filed.”

The 32th Assize Court issued the verdicts for Prof. Dr. Zubeyde Füsun Üstel, from Galatasaray University, and Prof. Dr Bursa Ersanlı, from Marmara University, reasoning that “a deferment of the announcement of the verdict had not been requested” and that “the court was not convinced that a further offence would not be committed.”

Prof. Dr Gülhan Türkay from Istanbul University did not request a deferment of the announcement of the verdict. Yet, the 36th Assize Court suspended the sentence and issued a 2-year probation period on the grounds that “the defendant has no criminal record” and “given her record, the conscientious ground exists that, if the verdict is deferred, the defendant will not commit another offence.

One annotation is added

In the final hearing of S.B.’s case at the 13th Assize Court, one judge added an opposing annotation against the punishment given for the “crime of making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

The judge opposed the majority vote, stating that the deed “constitutes the crime of helping the organization rather than making propaganda for it. Yet, given the defendant’s statement that she/he did not fully support the declaration, the moral element of the crime is missing.”


Sentencing Courts

  1. Assize Court – 1 academic
  2. Assize Court – 9 academics
  3. Assize Court – 18 academics
  4. Assize Court – 12 academics

 CLICK- Sentences of the trials of academics


Decisions according to Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code

As in the first case opened at the 13th Assize Code, some of the courts last year decided to request a permit from the Ministry of Justice to investigate “whether the characteristics and content of the offense ascribed to the defendants correspond to those specified in the article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code”.

The following courts took this decision:

14th Assize Court

29th Assize Court

22th Assize Coourt

35th Assize Court(The court had previously decided to join the different cases it was investigating against academics. It decided to send 33 files together to the Ministry of Justice to ask permission in relation to the article of 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The proceedings were halted until permission was received from the Ministry of Justice.) 

34th Assize Court (The court, which had asked for permission from the Ministry of Justice to investigate the cases of two academics under article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, decided to suspend the proceedings until an answer was received from the Ministry of Justice and eventually closed the case by not issuing a date for the trial.)

Decisions about joining case files


While the demands of lawyers to join the files against four academics, whose cases were heard at the 13thAssize Court, were rejected by all courts, some courts decided themselves to combine cases being heard at the same court.


Assize Courts 35, 33, and 30, and Assize Courts 29 and 24 under the presiding Judge Mustafa Çakar combined the case files.


What is in the case file at the 13thAssize Court?


In the cases against Assist. Prof. Esra Mungan, Assist. Prof. Meral Camcı, Assist. Prof. Muzaffer Kaya and Assoc. Prof. Kıvanç Ersoy, accused under article 7/2 of the Turkish anti-terror law for having signed the petition of the Academics for Peace entitled ‘We will not be a party to this crime’, the prosecutor applied to the Ministry of Justice for permission to prosecute the defendants according to article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The Ministry granted the request. However, during the latest hearing, the prosecutor requested to prosecute the academics according to article 7/2 of the anti-terror law. The trials against the four academics continues at the 13thAssize Court.


Arrest Warrants


Over the course of last year, one warrant was issued to bring the defendant to court by force and four arrest warrants were issued. The arrest warrant for Assist. Prof. Çetin Gürer, who had been laid off from his position at Nişantaşı University, was lifted following its objection. Other rulings are as follows:

34thAssize Court – Warrant to bring defendant Dr. D. A. by force

26thAssize Court – Assoc. Prof. Osman Cengiz Aktar from Süleyman Şah Üniversity

30thAssize Court – Prof. Serdar Değirmencioğlu, who was laid off from his position at Doğuş University

37thAssize Court – Dr. Esra Demir, who was expelled from Marmara University

33rdAssize Court – Assoc. Prof. Tuba İnal Çekiç, who was expelled from Yıldız Technical University


Warrants for both arrest and rogatory


The 36thAssize Court issued three decisions simultaneously in the case against Assist.  Prof. Dilşa Deniz from Nişantaşı University, who could not attend the hearing because she was abroad.


The court issued an arrest warrant in order to take the statement and then release the defendant. The court also decided to send a letter rogatory to the judicial authorities in the USA in order to deposition the defendant by way of rogatory based on the address provided by defendant’s lawyer. Lastly, it requested the return of rogatory letters if the defendant’s statement had already been taken.


Additional Charges


The 25thAssize Court  asked the defendants accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” to give additional statements of defense under Article 314/2 and Article of 220/7 of the Penal Code, and Article 5/1 of the Anti-Terror Law, which refer to the crime of “helping a terrorist organization without being a member”.


The prosecutor at the 24thAssize Court issued an assessment requesting that the academics be prosecuted for “helping a terrorist organization without being a member”.


The defendants at the 37thAssize Court were told that “even though the defendants are charged under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law, the indictment has the potential to be changed to the offense described under article 7/2.2 of the Anti-Terror Law”. The defendants were requested to provide an additional statement of defense.


Assessments by the prosecutor have been issued for the following defendants:


– Dr. N. İ. and Volkan Çidam from Bogazici University, Faculty Member Erdağ Aksel from Sabancı University


Disqualification Requests


Lawyers Ömer Kavili, during the trial against Prof. Neşe Yıldıran at the 35thAssize Court, and Meriç Eyüboğlu during the trial against Research Assistant Yonca Güneş Yücel at the 28thAssize Code, requested the disqualification of the judges.


Eyüboğlu requested the disqualification of the judges reasoning that “the court has already issued a verdict in the previous cases against other academics and is applying individual measures against the defendants absent in other trials”. The request was rejected.


The objection of Kavili is still proceeding.


Lawyer Ali Deniz Ceylan, during the trial against faculty member Dr. Güven Gürkan Öztan at the 36thAssize Court, requested the disqualification of the judges, pointing to the rulings issued against two academics earlier that day and “the impartiality of the court is suspect.” The request was rejected.


Lack of jurisdiction verdicts


Following the prosecutor’s opinion, the 14thAssize Court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction in the cases against Adnan Şahin and Hakan Mertcan.


The court reasoned that the “defendants had committed the imputed offense elsewhere”. The case file of Adnan Şahin is sent to the “competent and authorized” Tunceli Assize Court on Duty, and the case file of Mertcan is sent to the “competent and authorized” Mersin Assize Court.


The 24thAssize Court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction in the case against Research Assistant Esin Gülsen from Mersin University and sent the case file to the Ankara 27thAssize Court, where the defendant resides.


As the 27thAssize Court also ruled that it lacked jurisdiction, the case file was sent to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Istanbul Assize Courts have territorial jurisdiction.


The27thAssize Court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction in the case against Assist. Prof. Esengül Ayyıldız upon the request of the lawyer and the case file was sent to the Adana Assize Court on Duty.


What happened the peace petition was signed?

A total of 549 academics, 473 from public universities and 76 from foundation universities, were expelled, laid off, or forced to resign or retire through Statutory Decrees:


– Expelled through Statutory Decrees: 399 from public and 8 from foundation universities, 407 people in total.

– Laid off: 39 from public and 49 from foundation, 88 people in total.

– Resigned or forced to resign: 47 from public and 25 from foundation, 72people in total.

– Retired or forced to retire: 26 from public and 1 from foundation, 27 people in total.

– Subjected to disciplinary investigations: 442 at public and 63 at foundation universities, 505 people in total.

– Dismissed from their positions: 90 from public and 11 from foundation universities, 101 people in total.


For the original version of the report: https://bianet.org/bianet/ifade-ozgurlugu/203231-akademisyen-yargilamalarinin-sayilarla-bir-yili






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