Turkish court refuses to release suspect
lawyers in KCK Trial
The defendant lawyers in
the second Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial
in Istanbul requested a stay of proceedings and the
release of the defendants. The court rejected all
their demands in the suit where some 46 lawyers are
currently facing terrorism related charges.
July 17, 2012
ISTANBUL, — The defendant lawyers in the
second Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial in
Istanbul requested a stay of proceedings and the
suspects' release during
Monday's hearing, on the grounds they
had been arrested in connection with their
professional activities and in conflict with due
processes. The court rejected their demands in the
suit where some 50 suspects, 46 of them lawyers, are
standing trial on terrorism related charges.
The court also rejected the defendants' demands to
plea in their native Kurdish and for Abdullah Öcalan,
the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK,)
to be heard in the trial as well.
The hearing commenced at 12:00 p.m. in Istanbul's
Chief Judge Mehmet Ekinci and judges Bülent Kınay
and Seyfettin Mermerci presided over the trial,
while prosecutor Ufuk Ermertcan also attended the
hearing. Some 37 suspects are currently under arrest
pending trial in connection with the suit. One is a
journalist, while the remaining 36 are lawyers.
Over 100 lawyers participated in the trial to
represent the defendants, including the heads of the
Bar Associations of Ankara and the southeastern
provinces of Diyarbakır, Mardin, Van, Tunceli and
Şırnak, as well as Vedat Ahser Coşar, the head of
the Union of Turkish Bar Associations. The head of
the Istanbul Bar Association and representatives
from Amnesty International also attended the hearing
One other lawyer also represented the suspects on
behalf of his colleagues who arrived from Great
Britain, Germany, Sweden and France in a show of
support for the defendants. Dismayed by the presence
of lawyers from abroad, however, Chief Justice
Ekinci asked him in response: "Our lawyers are
through, and now it is your turn?"
Short on space, big on
Lack of space proved to be a significant hurdle, as
the trial kicked off in the First Court for Serious
Crimes rather than in the 16th Court for Serious
Crimes to allow for more room. Even then, however,
the lawyers still had difficulty trying to enter the
courtroom, leading to a quarrel between them and the
Chief Justice in the ensuing commotion.
"Why [are you] not holding the trial in a bigger
hall? If [you are] not holding [the trial in a
bigger hall,] then why do you arrest so many
people?" one of the lawyers said.
"This is our biggest hall. There is nothing to do,"
Chief Justice Ekinci responded.
When lawyers from the French Bar Association
attempted to take a photograph with a cell phone,
Chief Justice Ekinci also told them it was
"All meetings with Öcalan
took place under the permission and supervision of
When court officials began taking attendance, the
suspects responded in their native Kurdish: "Ez li
virim." ("I am here.")
"This is a historic and showcase trial where the
[practice of] law has been torn down into pieces. It
ought to be introduced to law students in the future
as course [material. This case] has gone down in
world history as the incident where the largest
number of lawyers has been taken under custody at a
single time. That a country which says it will bring
democracy to Syria is doing this [only] leads to a
bitter smile. Professional privacy has been trampled
upon when [officials] raided [the suspects'] law
offices on Nov. 22, 2011. Their professional and
private lives and their right to defend their
clients have been suspended," said Doğan Erbaş, one
of the arrested lawyers, while speaking in court on
behalf of all the suspects.
"It is the Kurds' and socialists' efforts to foment
[a political] will and to express themselves that
constitute the subject of this trial. This is a
historic trial. We are going to create a history
together. Your court will either serve as a means
toward a solution or it will play the 'three
monkeys' by condemning our client Abdullah Öcalan
and the Kurdish people to a chauvinistic
nationalism. Whether [this court] ties a knot in the
Kurdish problem or removes an obstacle remains to be
seen," he said.
"The entire indictment consists of our meetings with
Abdullah Öcalan. All meetings with lawyers took
place under the permission and supervision of the
state from the first day to the last. Everything had
been pre-determined through the laws; there was no
place for coincidence or initiative in the meetings.
Under these circumstances, it would be impossible to
administer the Leadership Committee mentioned in the
indictment. To associate these meetings with secret
directives for the organization and [its] actions is
tantamount to a freak of law. If the Leadership
then our client Öcalan should be heard before
anything else. Öcalan is the only witness and
client. If our client's views are on trial, then he
personally ought to say it himself. Is İmralı Island
and island of peace or a base of war? This trial
will not be fair unless this comes to light. It is
not the state that is on the receiving end of
injustice, it is us and our client who has been held
in isolation throughout the past year who are
sitting on the receiving end of injustice," Erbaş
Following a recess after Erbaş's speech, the lawyers
once more stepped into the courtroom amidst a storm
of applause and slogans calling for the defendants'
"A blow to the politics of
"Throughout our detention, [officials] kept asking
us whether we were aware of the talks with the state
on İmralı Island. This operation is a blow upon the
politics of negotiation. It is the method of holding
negotiations to resolve the Kurdish problem that lay
on the bull's eye during the operations against us
and the MİT (National Intelligence Organization) on
Feb. 7. The start of the investigation on March 2010
also coincides with a period when the government
became more actively engaged in the talks. The
operation was intended to ensure that no one would
again dare to make such an attempt," Erbaş said.
"Our client Öcalan contributed to the [PKK's]
decision for inaction within the knowledge of the
state. The negotiations were about to yield results.
This operation was intended against the search for
peace that the prime minister has recently let go
of. We reject [the charges of being] managers and
members of the Leadership Committee," he added.
"Right to Plea in One's
Lawyer Erbaş also requested that the court stay the
proceedings and recognize the defendants' right to
plea in their native Kurdish.
"The president, the prime minister and many other
judicial authorities have expressed that Kurds
constitute a primary, founding constituent [of this
country.] The Kurds' [right] to speak in their
mother tongue in public spaces ought not be limited
to the [terms of the] Treaty of Lausanne," Erbaş
Mehmet Emin Aktar, the head of the Diyarbakır Bar
Association, also requested a stay of proceedings on
the grounds that the Attorneys' Act mandated the
issuing of a permit from the Justice Ministry to try
the suspect lawyers, a requirement that officials
had failed to fulfill.
Aktar then also requested the defendants' release
and the revocation of their arrest orders.
Following a 45 minute long recess, however, the
court rejected all the defendants' demands.
Chief Justice Ekinci also denied the defendants'
request to plea in their native tongue by citing
article 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK.)
"If the suspect or the victim does not speak Turkish
well enough to express themselves, then a translator
appointed by the court translates the essential
points in the allegations and the defense in the
hearing," reads the CMK's 202nd article.
Nilay Vardar - BIA NEWS
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