Lawyers of 8 defendants in Cumhuriyet newspaper trial to appeal to the trial court, requesting a delay of the execution of the sentences upheld by appellate court 

CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL 

A court document stipulating that the reasoned judgment by the appellate court overseeing the Cumhuriyet trial has been finalized was placed late last week in the national judiciary network UYAP. This opens the way for the execution of the sentences for eight of the defendants in the case who were imposed prison sentences less than five years.

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice entered the document on UYAP on 18 April — two months after they rendered their reasoned judgment and upheld the sentences given by the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul to the former executives and columnists of Cumhuriyet daily.

Once the case file is returned to the trial court, an order will be sent to the execution office and the defendants Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Kadri Gürsel, Bülent Utku, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Emre İper — each of whom were given sentences less than five years — will return to prison.

On 22 April, the eight defendants and their lawyers organized a press conference concerning the upheld verdict and the way forward at the Istanbul Bar Association.

Tora Pekin, one of the representing lawyers, reminded that the prosecutor responsible for the trial was under investigation for alleged “FETÖ” [Fethullah Gülen terrorist organization] membership and is facing aggravated life imprisonment.

Pekin said that they had objected to the verdict through a 200-page petition to the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice but their objections were overturned in one line without proper explanation. Pekin added that they never received a response to their request for a courtroom hearing for the appeal process.

Constitutional Court and European Court have yet to rule on applications

Stating that the case files of defendants who were sentenced to over five years in prison have gone to the Supreme Court of Appeals, Pekin said: “We are hoping for the Supreme Court of Appeals to reach a verdict that will bring an end to this unlawful situation and overturn the decision to imprison them before the six Cumhuriyet employees sentenced to more than five years will have to return to prison.”

Pekin said that the Supreme Court option was closed for those sentenced to less than five years and they will be submitting an appeal to the 27th High Criminal Court of Istanbul to delay the execution of the sentences of the eight defendants.

Lawyer Fikret İlkiz also added that both the Constitutional Court of Turkey and the European Court of Human Rights have not yet addressed the individual applications filed over two years ago. İlkiz said: “We might not have had to be here today if these courts had reached a decision with reference to the Turkish Constitution and The European Convention on Human Rights.”

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