Court rejects petitions for release of jailed Cumhuriyet journalists Ahmet Şık, Murat Sabuncu and newspaper’s Executive Board Chairman Atalay

 

The Istanbul 27th High Criminal Court on January 16 rejected petitions demanding the release of jailed journalists Ahmet Şık and Murat Sabuncu and the daily’s Executive Board Chairman Akın Atalay on grounds that Constitutional Court judgments are only relevant to the applicant who has submitted an individual application before the Court.

Lawyers representing Şık, Sabuncu and Atalay filed petitions demanding their release on January 12, a day after the Constitutional Court rendered its judgments regarding the individual applications by jailed journalists Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay and Cumhuriyet Book Supplement Editor Turhan Günay, who had previously been released pending trial, ruling that their detentions constituted a “violation of their rights to personal liberty and security.” The petitions for the release of Şık, Sabuncu and Atalay were filed on grounds that the Constitutional Court judgment could set a precedent for other jailed journalists in similar conditions.

However, following the Istanbul 14th and 27th High Criminal Courts’ respective rejections on January 15 of petitions demanding the release of Alpay and Altan based on the January 11 Constitutional Court ruling, the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul on January 16 rejected the applications concerning Şık, Sabuncu and Atalay as well.

The 27th High Criminal Court said in its ruling that the “[Constitutional Court] judgment regarding an individual application would not affect other suspects.” The court said there had been “no changes regarding the grounds for the defendants’ detention.”

The ruling was issued by a majority vote with the dissenting opinion of one of the judges on the panel, who objected to the decision “considering the period of pretrial detentions of Atalay, Şık and Sabuncu; the majority of witnesses to have testified; and the risk of suspects destroying or altering evidence to be unlikely as most of the evidence against them to have already been collected.”

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