Journalist Meşale Tolu was taken into custody following a police raid at her house on April 30, 2017. She was kept in custody until May 5th.
She was arrested with the accusations of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” by the decision of Istanbul 9th Criminal Court of Peace and sent to Bakırköy Female Prison.
The indictment against 18 suspects, along with Etkin News Agency correspondent and translator Meşale Tolu, was completed on July 7th, 2017.
5 pages of the 124-page-long indictment is about Meşale Tolu. Secret witness statements regarding Tolu were lined.
According to that secret witness called Eylül Kızılbaş, stated that she “did not know Meşale Tolu by that name”. However she said Tolu “took part in the areal settlement of Gazi neighbourhood for MLKP terrorist organisation. She also attended the protest organised by SKM (Socialist Female Parliement), female branch of the organisation”.
In the indictment, allegations regarding “murder of Yeliz Erat and Şirin Öter during the Istanbul Police Headquarters’ operation in Gaziosmanpaşa, memorial ceremony that was published in ETHA, call for the funeral and news regarding the funeral, memorial ceremonies of Suphi Nejat Ağırnaslı and Ivana Hoffmann who lost their lives in the shootings at Northern Syria” were lined as the base of the accusations against Tolu.
Meşale Tolu was accused of “embracing the members of MLKP terrorist organisation participating in the protest to make propaganda for MLKP terrorist organisation” and “acting with the group”.
It was claimed that ESP was “MLKP’s open space branch”. “Protests against corruption”, organised by ESP, Socialist Female Parliament (SKM) and Socialist Youth Association (SGD) at Kadıköy were lined as evidence as well. Tolu was claimed to “have participated with ESP flag, acted with the group”.
Indictment claimed that the hunger strike made by Tolu and other suspects in the prison as “an order and attitude of the organisation”.
In the indictment Tolu was accused of “membership of an armed terrorist organisation” regulated by the article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code and article 5 of the Anti-Terror Law. She was requested to be sentenced to, from 7 years 6 months to 15 years of imprisonment.
Tolu was also accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” in a successive manner, according to the article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law and article 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. Within this scope she was requested to be sentenced to, from 1 year 3 months to 8 years 9 months of imprisonment.
Therefore, in total, Tolu was requested to be sentenced to, from 8 years 9 months to 23 years 9 months of imprisonment.
Trial of 18 suspects along with Erkin News Agency (ETHA) correspondent and translator Meşale Tolu, started with the hearing held at Istanbul 29th Assize Court on October 11, 2017. First hearing was followed by German authorities as well.
Tolu, in her defence statement at the first hearing, stated that she was put in target by the police for working as a translator at ETHA.
At the 2nd hearing on December 18th, 2017, Meşale Tolu was released with judicial control condition.
Prison board said that Tolu was going to be released after giving her signature at the nearest police station, due to her German citizenship. Tolu was taken out of the prison in an unofficial car by the Anti-Terror police. Right then, Tolu was ruled to be deported. Tolu was released later.
Tolu, after the ban on leaving the country was lifted in August 2018, went to Germany, where she has a citizenship.
Tenth hearing was held on October 11, 2019. Secret witness claimed to know suspects from the Istanbul Gezi Park Protests in 2013. Meşale Tolu’s attorney Keleş Öztürk, asked the witness; “too many shoot-outs occurred during Gezi. What were these people doing that you can remember them?”. The witness said “They were in a shoot-out. It’s been a long time since these events.”.
Attorney Öztürk said “How can you remember if it’s been a long time? What you are saying is nothing but a lie”. Öztürk, asking that the words of the secret witness to be not relied, said “Secret witness is a secret witness because she is a liar witness. We request that her statements to be not considered”.
11th hearing of the case was held on February 25th, 2020. Hearing was postponed to prepare the opinion as to the accusations.
12th hearing of the case was held on July 14, 2020. Tolu, who was abroad at the time, was not present at the hearing. Tolu was represented by her attorney Keleş Öztürk.
Attorney Öztürk requested the prosecution regarding his client, to be expanded. Öztürk said “On November 11th, we made a request to expand the prosecution. We care deeply about this issue. Because my client is claimed to have taken part in some incidents. We request that it to be investigated to see if there was any crime detected on the date of the incident.
Court board ruled to send an official request to Gaziosmanpaşa and Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutors’ Offices to find out if there was any ongoing investigations against Tolu.
13th hearing of the case is set to February 13, 2021. Tolu, being abroad, did not attend the hearing. At the hearing Tolu was represented by her lawyer Keleş Öztürk.
Lawyer Öztürk demanded that the prosecution be extended to the benefit of his client. Öztürk stated, “On November 11th, 2019, we requested an extension of the prosecution. We consider this to be important. It is claimed that my client was involved in certain incidents. We want it to be investigated whether a crime was indeed committed on the date of the incident.”
The panel of judges ruled to send a writ to Gaziosmanpaşa and Anadolu Public Prosecutor’s Offices to inquire about any investigations against Tolu.
The trial was adjourned until the 13th hearing on February 11th, 2021.
Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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