Mücella Yapıcı is a member of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and is one of the executives of the İstanbul Büyükkent branch of the Chamber of Architects. She is also a representative of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which was established in 2012 in the legal battle against projects that threaten the Taksim Square and the Taksim Gezi Park. Yapıcı is one of the defendants in the Gezi Park case where 16 rights defenders stand trial and are facing aggravated life imprisonment.
On 8 July 2013, Yapıcı was taken into custody along with 50 other people, including members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform. She was released on 11 July 2013. Later on, an indictment was prepared for 26 of these people on charges of “forming and controlling a criminal organization,” “disobeying a police officer,” and “violating the law on assemblies and demonstrations.” The indictment was rejected on 10 February 2014 because “it [was] not clear under which laws the suspects had founded an organization to commit crimes. The indictment should explain how the suspects founded and controlled an organization with the aim of committing crimes. It should also be clear which laws are violated, which would permit the accused to defend themselves.”
When the prosecutor of the investigation changed, a second indictment was prepared. In this second indictment, the charge of “disobeying a police officer” was removed, meaning the 26 individuals, including Yapıcı, were charged with “founding and controlling a criminal organization” and “violating the law on assemblies and demonstrations.” However, the second indictment also did not explain how a criminal organization was founded and controlled, and how the organization allowed the defendants to commit crimes. Nonetheless, this indictment was accepted on 17 March 2014. In this particular trial, Yapıcı was facing up to 17 years in prison, but the court acquitted all 26 defendants in 2015.
Yapıcı’s story does not end with this indictment or her acquittal. She is now one of the 16 individuals who stands trial in the Gezi case. This trial includes the representatives of TMMOB at the time, three members of Taksim Solidarity, Chamber of City Planners of Turkey Istanbul Office Executive Board chairperson Tayfun Kahraman, lawyer Can Atalay, and Osman Kavala. The 16 defendants are accused of “overthrowing the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from doing its duties” and are facing aggravated life imprisonment.
This Gezi indictment was prepared four years after the acquittals took place in 2015. It is based on evidence collected by prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, who is now being investigated for FETÖ membership.
Architect Yapıcı is accused of organizing a coup attempt for doing her profession. In other words, she is being punished for protecting the green spaces and trees of the city and is facing aggravated life imprisonment for these activities.
The fourth hearing of the Gezi case held on 24 and 25 December 2019.
In the fifth hearing of Gezi trial, on 28 January 2020, the defending attorneys’ requests for recusation have been rejected. While the attorneys left in protest, the audience was ordered out of the court hall.
The prosecutor presented his opinion as to the accusations on Gezi trial to the court on February 6, 2020. He asked Mücella Yapıcı, alongside with Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu be penalized as per the relevant provisions in the Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on charge of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to partially or completely prevent them from fulfilling its duties by using force and violence.”
The 6. hearing of the case was on February 18, 2020. The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court has acquitted Mücella Yapıcı and all other suspects.
On 16 November 2018, 13 human rights defenders and academics were taken into custody while their homes were being raided. According to the statement released by the Istanbul Security Governorate, these individuals were detained for allegedly “organizing and financing” the 2013 Gezi protests and for “acting in a hierarchical order with businessperson Osman Kavala,” who at the time had already spent more than one year without an indictment in prison.
Of the 13, 12 detainees were released on probation and with a travel ban on 17 and 18 November 2018. Unlike the other suspects, a court in Istanbul decided to arrest Yiğit Aksakoğlu on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from performing its duties.”
On 19 February 2019, when the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that the Gezi Park protests investigation and its indictment, including Yiğit Aksakoğlu, were completed, Aksakoğlu had already spent three months in jail.
On 4 March 2019, the Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court approved the Gezi indictment. The 657-page indictment seeks aggravated life imprisonment for 16 individuals on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from performing its duties,”* including Osman Kavala, Yiğit Aksakoğlu and 14 other human rights defenders. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was the Prime Minister during the Gezi protests, 27 cabinet members, and 746 unnamed individuals are listed under the “Victims/Plaintiffs” section of the indictment.
The first hearing of the case was held on 24 June 2019. 9 defendants** presented their defense at the hearing. The court released Aksakoğlu on probation, but ruled on the continuation of Kavala’s detainment.
At the second hearing held on 18 July 2019 the defendants’ attorneys presented their additional defenses. The Court dismissed the request for release of Osman Kavala and ruled on the continuation of detainment.
The third hearing, held on 8 October 2019, was led by the appointed new panel. After all defendants were questioned, the panel once again ruled in favour of continuing Osman Kavala’s detention.
The prosecutor presented his opinion as to the accusations on Gezi trial to the court on February 6, 2020. He has requested the following in his opinion:
- The case files of the defendants who are currently abroad, namely Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, Memet Ali Alabora and İnanç Ekmekçi be separated from others and the execution of the warrants against them be awaited.
- Osman Kavala, Yiğit Aksakoğlu and Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı be penalized as per the relevant provisions in the Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on charge of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to partially or completely prevent them from fulfilling its duties by using force and violence.”
- Çiğdem Mater Utku, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Şerafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi be penalized as “persons who assisted the offense” as per the Article 39 of the TCK considering that they assisted with the commission of the offenses before and during the incidents.
The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court has acquitted all suspects in the case into the Gezi Park protests of 2013. All 16 suspects in the case were acquitted of all charges and businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala is set to be freed on Feb. 18.
To see a detailed analysis of the case prepared by the Human Rights Watch, please click here.
For the report prepared by the Human Rights Committee of the British and Wales Bar Association on the case, please click here.
*Those who are named as “suspects” in the indictment are the following: M. Osman Kavala, A. Mücella Yapıcı, A. Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, H. Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Ş. Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi.