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Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut Acquitted in Özgür Gündem Main Trial
14/02/2020, 12:46

BİANET

The court has announced its ruling in the main trial of Özgür Gündem newspaper: Aslı Erdoğan, Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut have been acquitted, the files of İnan Kızılkaya, Eren Keskin, Kemal Sancılı and Zana (Bilir) Kaya have been separated.

The final hearing of the main trial of Özgür Gündem newspaper, which was closed by a Statutory Decree, was held at the İstanbul 23rd Heavy Penal Court in İstanbul Çağlayan Courthouse today (February 14).

Announcing its ruling on nine defendants, including the columnists and editorial advisory board of the newspaper, the court has ruled that the files of Filiz Koçali and Ragıp Zarakolu, against whom there is a warrant and who have not yet testified as part of the lawsuit, shall be separated.

The court has ruled that the files of Zana (Bilir) Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Eren Keskin shall also be separated as time has been requested for their statements of defense as to the accusations.

The court has ruled for the acquittal of Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut.

Pronouncing its judgement on Aslı Erdoğan, the court has ruled that she shall be acquitted of “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state” and “membership of a terrorist organization.” The charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” brought against Erdoğan has also dropped as the four-month period stipulated by the Press Law has been exceeded.

Keskin: I don’t have to answer for my opinions

İnan Kızılkaya, Zana (Bilir) Kaya, Eren Keskin, Necmiye Alpay and Kemal Sancılı appeared before the judge in the final hearing today.

Human Rights Association (İHD) Co-Chair lawyer Eren Keskin stated the following in brief in her last statement of defense:

“I do not agree with the prosecution’s opinion as to the accusations. I am not the member of an organization, but a rights defender.

“I have never taken a gun in my hand in my life. I think differently from the official ideology about the Kurdish issue, the Armenian issue and the Cyprus issue. I have paid a price for that for several times.

“The Court of Cassation stipulates some conditions for membership of an organization. For instance, it mentions surrendering one’s will to the organization. I have never surrendered my will to anyone till today. I am not the member of an organization, but a rights defender. I do not have to answer to anyone for my opinions.”

Alpay: Reasons for acquittal should be based on principle of freedom

Presenting her last statement of defense after Keskin, Necmiye Alpay said,

“A verdict of acquittal to be given to us in this trial does not remove the sentences given. Freedom of press and expression is not adequately or openly expressed in the prosecution’s opinion as to the accusations in explaining the reasons for acquittal.

“A climate where we can think and write freely should be created. I think that acquittals and reasons for acquittal should be grounded on principle of freedom for that purpose.”

Kemal Sancılı also said, “I am 70 years old. I am a person who has not surrendered his will to anyone, even to his father. It is openly written in the press law that a grant holder cannot be held accountable for the news reported. But, I was jailed for 2 years due to this trial. I request my acquittal.”

Kızılkaya: Journalism cannot be put on trial

İnan Kızılkaya also made his defense. “The press is for the ones who are ruled, not for the rulers. Journalism means being on the side of the truth”, said Kızılkaya and added, “Closing newspapers and punishing journalists mean burying the future of a country in darkness. Journalism cannot be put on trial. Journalism is not a crime.”

Attorney Kılıç requested time for defenses

Requesting her acquittal, Zana (Bilir) Kaya said, “Journalists have the right to report news and share them. The aim here is to ensure that society learns the truth, not to propagandize for an organization. I am only a member of the organization of journalism. Even though the power-holders are bothered by that, the press still has the duty to check the power-holders. I do not think that a political judgement should be made about it here.”

Özcan Kılıç, the attorney of defendants Sancılı, Kaya, Kızılkaya and Keskin requested time from the court for their statements as to the accusations.

Erdoğan sent a written defense

As Aslı Erdoğan is currently abroad, she sent a written defense to court to be read out by her attorney Erdal Doğan.

In her defense, Erdoğan wrote, “My article was consisting of anti-violence political content. With five-six words cherry-picked from the text, an eight-line accusation was made. No matter who he or she is, extrajudicial execution is a crime. I am calling on the court to claim universal conscience.”

Three defendants acquitted

Announcing its ruling, the court has ruled that the files of Filiz Koçali and Ragıp Zarakolu, against whom there is a warrant and who have not yet testified as part of the lawsuit, shall be separated from the others.

The court has ruled that the files of Zana (Bilir) Kaya, İnan Kızılkaya, Kemal Sancılı and Eren Keskin shall also be separated as time has been requested for their statements of defense as to the accusations.

The court has ruled for the acquittal of Necmiye Alpay and Bilge Aykut.

Pronouncing its judgement on Aslı Erdoğan, the court has ruled that she shall be acquitted of “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state” and “membership of a terrorist organization.” The charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” brought against Erdoğan has also dropped as the four-month period stipulated by the Press Law has been exceeded.

Audience of the hearing

Among the ones who monitored today’s hearing were also Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs Züleyha Gülüm and Ahmet Şık; Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Representative to Turkey Erol Önderoğlu, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) Chair Prof. Şebnem Korur-Fincancı and Milena Buyum from Amnesty International.

 
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