The houses of 20 people including Etkin News Agency (ETHA) correspondents İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan, and lawyers from Law Office for the Oppressed (EHB) were raied on October 9, 2017. The raid was organized within the scope of an investigation initiated by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
After the raid, Temel, Cuştan and 16 people were taken into custody. 13 members including Temel and Cuştan were arrested on October 25, 2017. Female detainees were taken to Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison and male detainees to Silivri Closed Prison No. 9.
On March 22, 2018, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment against 23 people, 13 of whom were already detained, and the indictment was accepted by Istanbul 27. High Criminal Court.
In the indictment drafted by the public prosecutor, remarkably, it was claimed that journalists İsminaz Temel and Havva Cuştan took part in the protests which they had covered as journalists. Secret witness statements were included in the file. All the charges dated back to before the year 2014.
The indictment requested that 23 individuals be sentenced for “membership of armed terrorist organization” [Marxist-Leninist Communist Party -MLKP] as per Turkish Penal Code, Article 314/2. and Anti-Terror Law Article 5/1 and “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” as per Anti-Terror Law Article 7/2. The penalties requested were prison sentences from 10 to 15 years pursuant to Turkish Penal Code, 312/2 and from 1 to 5 years according to Anti-Terror Law 7/2; in other words, prison sentences reaching 11 to 20 years in total.
The first hearing of the case was held on July 17, 2018.
On the second day of the trial, the court ordered the release of five defendants, including journalist Havva Cuştan. The detention of seven people, including ETHA correspondent İsminaz Temel, was ordered to continue.
At the third hearing of the case, the court ordered the continuation of the detention of journalist İsminaz Temel and two persons.
İsminaz Temel was released at the fourth hearing of the case on February 14, 2019 with judicial control in the form of a ban on going abroad. At the trial on April 24, 2019, the last two detained defendants were also released.
The court ordered the continuation of the judicial controls in the form of a ban on going abroad. The trial was adjourned until November 26, 2019, 10:15 a.m.
7th hearing of the case was held at November 26th, 2019. The anonymous witness that made statements about the suspects was listened. Witness answered some of the questions by saying “I’d like to exercise my right to remain silent”. These expressions were put in the records as “I don’t want to talk in order to keep my identity unrevealed” by the presiding judge. This action of the presiding judge caused controversy. At the end of the hearing the presiding judge, in the interlocutory judgement ruled to not listen to the other 2 anonymous witnesses who were not listened yet. As the grounds of this decision he said “considering the scope of the case and the situation of the evidences”. Interlocutory judgment ruled for continuation of the judicial control measures against the suspects. Next hearing was set to March 13th, 2020.
The ninth hearing of the case could not be held on 10 June 2020, as planned. The trial, postponed to 23 September 2020 due to Coronavirus pandemic measures.
The 10th hearing of the trial was held on September 23rd, 2020. The panel of judges had changed, including the president of the court. Journalists Havva Cuştan and İsminaz Temel did not attend the hearing. Temel was represented at the hearing by his lawyer Ömer Çakırgöz. Çakırgöz demanded the annulation of the probation measure of overseas travel ban concerning Temel.
Çakırgöz stated “My client’s mother is abroad and receiving treatment. He has to travel abroad. I request the lifting of his overseas travel ban.” The other defendants and their lawyers also requested the removal of the probation measures.
The trial prosecutor demanded that the court reject the lawyers’ requests and continue the probation measures. The panel of judges rejected all of the lawyers’ requests. Indeed, the judge also explained this rejection. Claiming that the bans could not be lifted, he gave examples from the trial against journalist Can Dündar and Erdem Gül. The president of the court said:
“Investigations are launched against judges lifting the probation measures and overseas travel bans in terror-related cases. As such, we do not lift these measures before the verdict is announced. In the highly publicized Dündar case, Dündar could leave the country because the judges lifted the ban. In order to avoid such situations, we reject these demands at this stage of the proceedings. We lift the bans for only those individuals who are set to be acquitted.”
The trial will continue with the 11. hearing on February 18th, 2021.
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