Both trials adjourned until 24 September for Tanbay and Bulutoğlu’s defense statements

The first hearings in the trials of choreographer and dance instructor Zeynep Tanbay and businessperson Halim Bulutoğlu on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” took place on 23 May 2019 at the 14th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.

Tanbay and Bulutoğlu were among 17 artists, journalists and writers who turned themselves in to the authorities in support of the academics who are being prosecuted for signing 2016’s Academics for Peace petition. The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued separate indictments against all 17. Tanbay and Bulutoğlu’s cases were the first trials to get under way among the 17 files.

The court first heard Tanbay’s trial. Tanbay’s lawyer Bahri Belen told the court that the academics’ petition was an exercising of the right to freedom of expression and therefore his client must be immediately acquitted without a trial. Referring to the Constitutional Court’s recent judgment concerning the individual application of Ayşe Çelik, Belen said the conditions for immediate acquittal were present in Tanbay’s case.

Explaining that the accusations in the indictment were not within the context of “terrorist propaganda,” Belen pointed out that the Academics for Peace petition merely criticized the government. Belen added that in the event the court does not immediately acquit Tanbay, then the proceedings should be carried out under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). The court rejected the requests and adjourned the trial until 24 September for Tanbay to prepare her defense statement.

The court then went on to hear Bulutoğlu’s case. Lawyer Belen, who also represented Bulutoğlu, reiterated the same requests, which the court rejected once again. Bulutoğlu’s trial was also adjourned until 24 September for the preparation of his defense statement.

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