Court of Appeal Upholds First Prison Sentence of an Academic for Peace
The court of appeal has upheld the 15-month prison sentence previously given to Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel, an academic signatory to the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by Academics for Peace.
The 3rd Panel Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice has upheld the prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months previously given to Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel for having signed the declaration “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by Academics for Peace.
Being upheld by the court of appeal by majority of votes, the prison sentence given to Üstel on April 4, 2018 has become definite.
One of the judges member to the court board expressed a dissenting opinion, stating that the case should have been considered as per the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and the file should have been sent to the first court which heard the case of Üstel.
Verdict: Examination was appropriate
In its judgement dated February 25, 2019, the court of appeal stated,
“…considering that the verdict of the court is not contrary to law on procedural grounds or in terms of substance of the charges; there is no deficiency in the evidence or proceedings; the examination was appropriate with regards to proof; the acts were accurately defined and comply with the type of offence foreseen in the law; and the sentences were carried out within a legal context; it has been ruled that appeal of the defense counsel of the defendant shall be rejected on procedural grounds as per the Article 280/1-a of the Law on Criminal Courts (CMK)…”
One of the judges member to the board of the court of appeal expressed a dissenting opinion to the above verdict, stating that the offense charged does not constitute the crime of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK), but that of “degrading the state of the Republic of Turkey” as per the Article 301 of the TCK.
Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article no. 301
A person who publicly degrades Turkish Nation, State of the Republic of Turkey, Grand National Assembly of Turkey the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the judicial bodies of the State shall be sentenced a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to two years. A person who publicly degrades the military or security organisations shall be sentenced according to the provision set out in paragraph one. The expression of an opinion for the purpose of criticism does not constitute an offence.
First prison sentence
With the indictment issued by Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, lawsuits were filed against the Academics for Peace on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.
On April 4, 2018, the İstanbul 32nd Heavy Penal Court ruled that Üstel should be sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison. The court deferred neither the announcement of the verdict*, nor the prison sentence.
27 other files awaiting judgement of appeal court
As of March 3, 2019, 10 academics, including Zübeyde Füsun Üstel, did not accept that the announcement of their verdicts be suspended.
Including the files of academics sentenced to more than 2 years, the files of 27 academics in total have been taken to the court of appeal so far.
Cases of 137 academics were concluded. 100 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 4 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; 14 academics to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison; 15 academics to 2 years and 3 months in prison; two academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month; and one academic to 3 years in prison.
About Zübeyde Füsun Üstel
Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel is an academic at Galatasaray University. She completed her undergraduate studies at Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences. She received her Master’s degree from the University of Johns Hopkins in Italy in 1980-1981 and started working as a research assistant at İstanbul University, Faculty of Economics.
She completed her PhD at the Faculty of Political Sciences of Ankara University in 1987. Becoming a lecturer at Galatasaray University, Üstel has published a series of articles in Turkey-based and international journals of social sciences. Her articles have mostly focused on the history of Turkey, nationalism and issues of identity.
* As per the Article 231 of the Law on Criminal Courts (CMK), when a court rules that the announcement of a verdict shall be suspended, the verdict/sentence is removed in the event that the person does not commit an intentional crime in five years.