Defence kicked out in Altans' trial

By Bianet

The third hearing of the media trial in connection with the  July 15 2016 coup attempt with 17 defendants including Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak was held at İstanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court in Çağlayan on November 13.

Defence kicked out in Altans' trial Photo: bianet. Human rights defenders observed the trial

Among the international observers of the trial, pictured above: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) President Pierre Haski, RSF Representative to Turkey Erol Önderoğlu, Georgia Nash from Article 19, PEN International Advocacy Director Sarah Clarke, Eugene Schoulgin from the PEN, Amnesty International and diplomats from Switzerland, France, Belgium, Czech Republic and Norway.

The court committee cleared the courtroom

Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, who have been in detention on remand for 417 days, attended the hearing from Silivri Prison via Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS). The other defendants were present in the hearing.

Chief Judge Kemal Selçuk Yalçın stopped lawyer Ergin Cinmen, who wanted to speak before the dictum is presented and got him out of the courtroom forcibly. The court committee used a break to clear everyone out following this incident,.

Chief Judge Yalçın prevented lawyer Yasemin Çalıkuşu from speaking this time as the hearing resumed and had her removed from the courtoom. Çalıkuşu demanded recusation. The hearing  continued without Cinmen and Çalıkuşu.

Cinmen: Intolerance towards the defence

Speaking to bianet, Cinmen stated that they wanted to make a statement of defence, the committee didn’t allow it and they were kicked out of the courtroom when they insisted on it and said, “This incident displays the intolerance towards the defence. We’ve been taken out of the courtroom for attempting to exercise the right of defence”. Cinmen added that other defence lawyers demanded recusation as well.

One of Mehmet Altan and Ahmet Altan’s lawyers Ferat Çağıl, who wanted to take the floor, was removed from the courtroom as well

At 12:02 p.m., Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan's last lawyer Melike Polat demanded recusation too. The Chief Judge kicked Polat out of the courtroom as well. With that, no attorney was left in the courtroom to represent Mehmet Altan and Ahmet Altan. 

Ilıcak: 'I cannot accept it'

Demanding that more rights of defence be provided to them, Ilıcak said: “I have anti-coup tweets. I cannot accept it. You cannot explain to anyone that Nazlı Ilıcak is a coup plotter. I believe the ECtHR (European court of Human Rights) will rule this is a violation. I don’t want Turkey to face another verdict of violation”. 

Ilıcak demanded her release.

Şimşek pleaded not guilty and demanded his release. Yazıcı who is in detention on remand said, “I am in no way a FETÖ member. I condemn the coup attempt that stole 15 months of my life. I am not guilty. I demand my release, considering my detention of 15 months”.

Mehmet Altan: I demand my release myself because I don't have my lawyers

“Has the new prosecutor read out an indictment? If not, how can he demand continuation of the arrest? Is there a crime called ‘subliminal message’ in law? I have been kept in detention for 429 days without being shown any concrete evidence. Just show me some evidence for god’s sake. I await your decision of recusation but I demand my release myself because I don’t have my lawyers”.

Ahmet Altan said, “The United Nations in its ECtHR report said ‘this trial is a theatre’. As I listened to the prosecutor’s replies just now, I’ve realised that I’m an actor in this theatre. How can a prosecutor who doesn’t have any grasp on the file rehearse like this? There can’t be such law, there can’t be such court. That's all I’ve got to say”.

Continuation of arrest

Declaring its interim decision at 4:45 p.m., the court ruled continuation of arrest. The court accepted the request by by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) of being a third party to the trial, and refused the same demand by Serdar Öztürk, Dursun Çiçek and Hasan Ataman Yıldırım.

Claiming that the recusation demand intends to prolong the trial, the court rejected the demand of recusation 

The hearing will resume on December 11.

17 defendants - six are in detention on remand

An indictment has been drafted for the author Ahmet Altan, his brother Prof. Dr. Mehmet Altan, journalist Nazlı Ilıcak, then Editor-in-Chief of the closed Zaman daily newspaper Ekrem Dumanlı, former Taraf columnist Emre Uslu, journalist Tuncay Opçin, Samanyolu TV Representative to Washington Şemseddin Efe, former Editor-in-Chief of Today’s Zaman newspaper Bülent Keneş, Prof. Dr. Osman Özsoy, Zaman daily correspondent to Israel Abdulkerim Balcı, its vice editor-in-chief Mehmet Kamış and executive Faruk Kardıç, its visual director Fevzi Yazıcı, Police Academy academic member Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül, Zaman daily brand manager Yakup Şimşek and Ali Çolak working at newspaper’s culture and art section Tibet Murat Sanlıman who is the owner of the advertising agency which allegedly promoted the coup and was released on October 10, 2015 are standing trial.

Nazlı Ilıcak, Yakup Şimşek, Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan, Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül and Fevzi Yazıcı are to remain in prison pending trial.

There are detention warrants for Abdulkerim Balcı, Ali Çolak, Bülent Keneş, Ekrem Dumanlı, Emrullah Uslu (Emre Uslu), Faruk Kardıç, Mehmet Kamış, Osman Özsoy, Şemseddin Efe and Tuncay Opçin.

President Erdoğan is a plaintiff in the case

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the 65th Government are mentioned as plaintiffs in the indictment on the grounds that they had been offended by the crime.  

Sentences that the defendants face:

Ahmet and Mehmet Altan, Nazlı Ilıcak

Three aggravated life sentences was demanded for Mehmet Altan, Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak on charges of “Attempting to abolish the Grand National Assembly of Turkey or to prevent the parliament from performing its duties”, ““Attempting to abolish government of Turkey or to prevent it from performing its duties”, and “Attempting to abolish the Constitutional order”.

Furthermore, these three people face jail terms from 7.5 to 15 years in prison on charge of “Committing a crime on behalf of an armed terror organisation though not being a member of it” for “committing crime on behalf of the FETÖ”.

Dumanlı, Uslu and Opçin...

Three aggravated life sentences was demanded for Zaman daily newspaper former editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı, former Taraf daily columnist Emre Uslu and journalist Tuncay Opçin on charge of “coup attempt”. Zaman was closed down by the government.

Besides, from 15 to 22.5 years in prison was demanded for the three  on charges of “Being manager of an armed terror organisation”, and Uslu also faces up to three years in prison for “inciting people to hate and animosity”.

Samanyolu, Zaman and Today's Zaman managers and workers...

Three aggravated life sentences was demanded for Samanyolu TV’s runaway representative to Washington Şemseddin Efe, Today’s Zaman daily former editor-in-chief runaway suspect Bülent Keneş, Professor Osman Özsoy, Zaman daily Israel correspondent runaway suspect Abdulkerim Balcı, vice editor-in-chief runaway Mehmet Kamış and manager Faruk Kardıç, the daily’s visual director Fevzi Yazıcı, Police Academy academic member Şükrü Tuğrul Özşengül, Zaman daily brand director Yakup Şimşek, daily’s culture and art section writer Ali Çolak on charge of “coup attempt”. (EA/TK)

This article first appeared in Bianet English and is reproduced by kind permission of Bianet