The trial against 27 suspects, including journalist and translator Meşale Tolu, resumed at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul
The trial against 27 suspects, including journalist and translator Meşale Tolu resumed at the 29th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on April 26, 2018.
Tolu, who faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “conducting propaganda for a terrorist organization,” was released in the previous hearing of her trial on December 2017. In its interim decision at that hearing, the court ruled to merge the case file with that of another case where Tolu’s husband Suat Çorlu is also on trial.
The hearing held on April 26, 2018, was the first since case files had been merged. All 27 defendants, three of which are in pre-trial detention under other investigations, were present at the hearing monitored in the courtroom by P24, German Ambassador Martin Erdman, German Left Party MP Ali Kenan Sel and representatives from the International Press Institute (IPI).
Tolu, who has dual Turkish and German citizenship, demanded the court to lift the travel ban and judicial control measures imposed on her. “As I live in Germany, my child is enrolled in a school over there” said Tolu, while stressing that her 3-year-old son spent 8 months in pre-trial detention with her. “I want my son to continue his schooling at the country where I am a citizen. I demand all judicial control terms to be lifted. I signed the papers regularly [at the police department]. I also demand my acquittal,” she told the court.
Tolu’s lawyer Kader Tonç also said that most of her family was living in Germany. Tonç pointed out that the court is considering to alter the charges levelled to suspects. “In which case, there would be no place for judicial control measures. We ask judicial control measures to be lifted in order to prevent inflicting more harm,” she said.
In its interim decision, the court ruled to lift the measure of regular reporting to the police station. However, it rejected the demand to lift the travel ban imposed on some of the suspects. The trial was adjourned until October 16, 2018.
Tolu: There is no progress in trial
In her statements following the hearing, Tolu said that authorities had failed to submit to court documents requested by lawyers for months. There is no progress in the trial, Tolu said, expressing her dismay that the next hearing was set months later.
Regarding her travel ban, Tolu said it affected her life a lot. “I have a young child. He needs to go to kindergarten in Germany and learn the language. On the other hand, if I work again as a journalist I would be again under risk,” she told reporters.
Tolu was arrested in a police raid on her home on April 30, 2017, and sent to prison pending trial by a court on May 5, 2017. Tolu’s son was staying in jail with his parents, taking turns between her and her husband, Suat Çorlu, who was also imprisoned. Tolu was released at the second hearing of her trial on December 18, 2018. Çorlu was released a few weeks before, on November 28. In its interim decision on December 18, 2017, the 29th High Criminal Court ruled two merge the case files of both trials. As a result of the court’s decision, Tolu and Çorlu are standing trial together in a single case.