Prosecutor asks court to convict Taner Kılıç, Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser, Özlem Dalkıran, Nejat Taştan and Veli Acu of terrorism-related charges; trial adjourned until February
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
The 10th hearing in the trial of 11 human rights activists accused of “aiding an armed terrorist organization” and “terrorist organization membership” for attending a meeting in Istanbul’s Büyükada concerning the safety and security of rights defenders took place on 27 November 2019 at the 35th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
The hearing, monitored by P24, began 20 minutes later than scheduled. Taner Kılıç, İlknur Üstün, Nalan Erkem and Günal Kurşun were in attendance with their lawyers in the courtroom.
Presenting their final opinion, the prosecutor asked the court to convict Taner Kılıç of “membership in a terrorist organization” on the grounds that he had deposited money in a Bank Asya account and that there was an arrest warrant against his sister’s husband Mehmet Kamış, a former employee of the shuttered Zaman newspaper. Based on the evidence in the indictment, the prosecutor also requested prison terms for Günal Kurşun, İdil Eser, Özlem Dalkıran, Nejat Taştan and Veli Acu on the charge of “aiding a terörist organization without being its member.” The prosecutor asked the court to acquit Peter Frank Steudtner, Ali Gharavi, İlknur Üstün, Nalan Erkem and Muhammed Şeyhmus Özbekli for lack of convincing evidence.
Addressing the court, Taner Kılıç’s lawyer Murat Dinçer said that the final opinion contained statements that were never previously mentioned in the indictment and during the prosecution. He said, “The prosecutor must explain when and where these statements were written.” Dinçer also requested the court to transcribe his request in the minutes of the hearing.
Speaking next, lawyer Hülya Gülbahar said that they had been waiting for the final opinion for about eight months. Gülbahar continued: “If there is any way for your court to legally return the final opinion and request all the documents that we have presented throughout the proceedings about the defendants to also be analyzed. We disproved all the unlawful allegations in the indictment. But despite this, the final opinion is a repetition of the indictment.” Gülbahar requested the immediate acquittal of her clients.
Lawyer Özlem Yıldız said that the evidence listed in the final opinion had nothing to do with the sought punishments. Therefore, she said, the final opinion was insufficient.
Lawyer Erdal Doğan asked the prosecutor to explain the grounds for leveling the accusations in the final opinion.
Lawyer Erkan Şenses said: “It is evident that the authorities who had an influence on the launch of this investigation do not want acquittals in this file.” All the lawyers went on to request additional time to present their final defense statements.
Defendant Taner Kılıç spoke last and said: “How can I be held legally responsible for a message that came to my phone via WhatsApp? Since the very first day that I was arrested, I have been asking the Department of Cyber Crimes to determine whether or not this text was a WhatsApp message. But nothing I have submitted since that date were answered. I request a response to this inquiry.”
Issuing an interim decision at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 19 February 2020, granting time for the preparation of the final defense statements.