Updated Information Note on Trials against Academics for Peace


Trials against academics who signed a petition by Academics for Peace continue in Istanbul Çağlayan Courthouse. Below you can find a brief summary of the current situation in relation to the trials against signatories:

-The first trial initiated against four signatories who read a second press statement on March 10, 2016 for affirming the signatories’ commitment to the wording of the initial petition: On 22 April 2016, the prosecutor had asked permission from the Minister of Justice for the continuation of the prosecution under Article 301 of the Penal Code[1]. The Court adjourned the procedure for two years while waiting for the decision of the Minister. However after receiving the Minister’s permission for the prosecution under Article 301 in April 2018, the Prosecutor submitted a concluding opinion where he asked that the defendant academics be sentenced under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Act. The case is still pending. The next hearing is on 9th of October.

– In October 2017, other signatories of the petition started to receive subpoenas, summoning them to the court with an accusation of carrying out terrorist propaganda. Those who received subpoenas since then are put individually on trial before tens of different Assize Courts or before different Panels of the same Assize Courts[2] with an indictment identical in content. As of 11th of October 2018, the courts have filed penal suits against 419 academics´. 

– Lawyers of some signatories requested the courts to merge the cases of all academics, including the one against four signatories. They emphasized the need to avoid inconsistencies in the charges on which the prosecution will proceed and in the conclusions to be reached by different courts in relation to one identical act. Most of the courts dismissed the requests for rejoinder of the cases. But some other courts accepted the demand of the lawyers and rejoined the cases of the Peace Academics on trial before them.

– As of 11th of October 2018, 28 rulings were already delivered. The defendant academics were found guilty and sentenced 15 months of imprisonment, as the courts decided that the punishment should be aggravated as the crime of carrying out terrorist propaganda has been deemed to be committed through means of media.

-Relying on the Penal Procedure Code, the sentenced academics have been offered an option: the deferment of the announcement of the verdict, which enables the court not to announce the decision, and in the case that defendant will not be found guilty for another crime in a certain period, to foreclose the case. When the accused accepts this mechanism to be applied, then s(he) becomes deprived of the rights on appeal at the Court of Appeal (Istinaf) for the review of the verdict. However s(he) has the right to individual application to the Constitutional Court for the violation of her/his rights and freedoms.

– Several defendant academics accepted to resort to the deferment of the announcement of the verdict. Several applications are pending before the Constitutional Court.

– As of October 2018, two academics refused the application of this mechanism. These academics have applied to the Court of Appeal. Their cases are pending.

– 32nd Assize Court that delivered the first ruling in this set of trials continued and still continues to prosecute other signatories despite of the severe doubts on its impartiality. The Court’s first ruling has rendered its subsequent judgments largely predictable, as it had relied on strong negative assessments on signatories and the petition they signed. There have actually been no surprise: Composed of the same three judges, 32nd Assize Court has relied on word for word same grounds in all its subsequent judgments by which the signatories were sentenced to the same amount of imprisonment. This is not unique to the 32nd Assize Court but it has been and inevitably will be the case in all other courts that run the trials against signatories without rejoining the cases.

– The right to defense is hindered in many ways during the hearings. The most notorious example is the 28th Assize Court that refused the written excuse of the lawyer who failed to appear before the court because of health reasons. The defendant asked the adjournment of the case given the fact that she cannot defend herself without the assistance of her lawyer. The Court refused the defendant’s request and sentenced the academic to 15 months of imprisonment in the absence of her lawyer and without hearing the defendant’s defense.

– The Second Panel of the 29th Assize Court has asked permissions from the Minister of Justice for the continuation of the cases against signatory academics under Article 301 of the Penal Code. The court adjourns the hearing while waiting Minister’s response.

– Some other Assize Courts asked that defendants to submit their additional defense under Articles 220/7 and 314/2 of the Penal Code. These articles provide a penalty of five to ten years of prison for aiding and abiding a terrorist organization. In some of these courts (i.e. 24th Assize Court) the prosecutor asked in the concluding opinion that the academics be sentenced under articles 220/7 and 314/2.


[1] This article prohibits “degrading the Turkish Nation and the State of the Republic of Turkey and the organs and institutions of the State”.

[2] After the declaration of the state of emergency, due to the workload, additional Panels are established under the Assize Courts.


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