Civil rights activist and musician Şanar Yurdatapan and linguist Necmiye Alpay’s trials adjourned until November

ÖZGÜN ÖZÇER, İSTANBUL

Civil rights activist and musician Şanar Yurdatapan and linguist Necmiye Alpay appeared at the first hearing of their respective trials on the charge of “disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organization” on 16 July 2019. P24 monitored both hearings.

Yurdatapan and Alpay are on trial because they, along with 16 other rights defenders, turned themselves in to the authorities on 18 January 2016 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 each of them.

On 16 July 2019, the 13th High Criminal Court of Istanbul heard Yurdatapan’s trial. Yurdatapan told the court that launching separate trials against those who joined the action in support of the academics was “unlawful.” He added that prosecutors feared that combining all 17 indictments in a single major trial would draw bigger public and media attention. Yurdatapan requested the disqualification of the judges, saying, “By accepting the indictment although it could have rejected it, the court has become partial in this case.” The court rejected the request.

Yurdatapan also said that the indictment only contained the prosecutor’s own interpretations on his alleged intentions and asked to be immediately acquitted, which the court also rejected.

Yurdatapan then began presenting his defense statement, saying that he would only accept an acquittal based on Article 26 of the Turkish Constitution, which safeguards the right to freedom of expression.

Asked by the presiding judge about whether he has engaged in similar actions in the past, Yurdatapan said: “I have been involved in around a hundred similar actions since 1995 when [writer] Yaşar Kemal stood trial at a State Security Court [DGM]. I supported people from different worldviews. And Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was one of them.”

Upon the prosecutor’s request the court decided to wait for the Constitutional Court’s imminent ruling on the prison sentences given to the academics who signed the peace petition and adjourned the trial until 6 November 2019.

Court to hear Alpay’s defense statement later

Linguist and writer Necmiye Alpay’s trial was overseen by the 33rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Alpay’s lawyer Mehmet Adil Demirci requested the court to adjourn the trial awaiting the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the cases of academics convicted for signing the peace petition.

Demirci also said that the indictment against his client contained a factual error, where it stated that Alpay was among the signatories of the Academics for Peace petition. The lawyer reminded the court that this case was launched because Alpay took part in the action to support the academics.

Unlike in Yurdatapan’s trial, the prosecutor asked the court to reject the request to wait for the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the academics, but requested a continuance for the defense. The court accepted the prosecutor’s requests and adjourned the trial until 29 November 2019, without hearing Alpay’s defense statement.

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