Court rejects acquittal requests of rights defenders Arat Dink and Bülent Deniz

CANSU PİŞKİN, İSTANBUL 

The first hearing in the trial of rights defenders Bülent Deniz and Arat Dink on the “disseminating terrorist organization propaganda” charge was held on 20 June 2019 at the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Dink and Deniz are among the 18 rights defenders who turned themselves in to the authorities in support of the academics being prosecuted for signing 2016’s Academics for Peace petition. The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued 18 separate indictments against all 18. Trials were launched into each defendant.

The court first heard Bülent Deniz’s case. Deniz’s lawyers Kemal Kaya and Şadi Çarsancaklı requested the immediate acquittal of their client. They also requested the permission of the Ministry of Justice for their client to be tried on the “insulting Turkishness” charge as per Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Taking into consideration the scope of the case file and the existing evidence, the court rejected both requests and adjourned the trial until 17 October 2019.

Shortly afterwards the 36th High Criminal Court of Istanbul heard Arat Dink’s case. Dink’s lawyer Ümre Deniz Tuna Dink said that the indictment against her client was not personalized and was full of factual errors such as stating that he was a journalist, and that he was one of the signatories of the Academics for Peace petition, neither of which is correct. She said that due to the past decisions rendered by the court, which is also one of the trial courts overseeing trials of the Peace Academics, the court has lost its objectivity. The lawyer asked the court to retire from the case.

The court found the request about the panel to be out of place and rejected the request.

Dink’s other lawyer Fethiye Çetin said the conditions for a crime are not formed and requested her client’s immediate acquittal. The prosecutor said that the crime required trial and rejected the acquittal request. The court then unanimously rejected  the immediate acquittal request.

After his lawyers’ statements, Arat Dink went on to make his defense statement and asked the indictment he found difficult to understand to be read out in court.  The presiding judge summarized the indictment. In response, Dink said that he did not regret supporting academics who signed the petition but that his one regret in relation to the petition was the signatories’ failure to expose the violence that took place, as claimed in the petition.

Dink added that the most annoying part of the indictment, according to him, was the claim that by participating he acted upon instruction and asked for proof to be presented for this claim.

Dink completed his defense statement by saying that if sentenced he would not accept a deferred sentence.

Dink’s lawyer Çetin requested the trial of his client to be merged with the files of 17 others on trial over the same act.

The court rejected the request to merge the files due to the differences in the stages the trials are in. Deciding to wait for the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the individual applications filed by a group of Academics for Peace, the court adjourned the trial until 9 October 2019.

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