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Prof. Dr. Fincancı released on bail

Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur-Fincancı, the President of the Union of Turkey’s Medical Associations (TBB) and a forensic medicine expert, was released after two and a half months of detention.

Fincancı had been on trial for the offence of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and the third hearing of the trial was held today at the 24th High Criminal Court of İstanbul.

The Court sentenced Korur Fincancı to 2 years, 8 months and 15 days of imprisonment for the crime of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and ruled to release her from prison on bail.

Following her comments on the images regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in military operations carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, which were aired in October 2022 by the Kurdish television Medya Haber based in Europe, Korur Fincancı was first targeted on social media and then arrested.

 

Security barricades in front of the courthouse

In this hearing too Fincancı was brought to the court surrounded by a wall of military police.

Present at the hearing were a large crowd of medical doctors, rights defenders and journalists, as well as PEN Norway rapporteur for the hearing, representatives from the Human Rights Watch (HRW), European Doctors (CPME) and FIDH, the German Consul General, and representatives from the EU Delegation and from the consulates of Netherlands, USA and Sweden. The courtroom proved to be too small for the observers and lawyers.

Plain-clothes policemen were also present in the courtroom. During the hearing, the defence statements were interrupted by the sound of police radios.

The Court announced that the lawyers’ request for recusal was rejected. Nahit Eren, the President of the Diyarbakır Bar Association stated that the reasons for the refusal were unclear, and that the court violated the right to a fair trial with practices such as the way the order was maintained in the courtroom and the Court’s decision to limit the number of defence lawyers to three.

Lawyer Özkan Yücel, the former President of the İzmir Bar Association, also stated that the courthouse entrance was blocked by the security barricades in an attempt to restrict citizens’ access to the courthouse and the courtroom, which in turn restricted the right of defence. Yücel also reacted against the prosecutor who kept checking his phone and did not listen to the statements. Throughout the hearing, the prosecutor busied himself with his phone and with the keyboard of the computer in front of him.

For the third time, the lawyer of the Ministry of National Defence, who was present in the courtroom, requested to become a party in the case. The court rejected all requests.

 

Lawyers: Not a legal but a political case

When Şebnem Korur Fincancı requested to speak, the president of the Court said, “You have been given the floor in the previous hearing, but anyway let’s give it again.”

Fincancı started her speech by thanking the people in the courtroom and said, “The fact that no one except the government could use the word “chemical weapons” is the proof that a climate of fear has been created. But fear is no remedy to death, Your Honor.”

Lawyers Öztürk Türkdoğan, Hülya Yıldırım and Meriç Eyüboğlu stated that this was a political case without any elements of crime. They submitted to the court the precedent ECtHR and Constitutional Court judgments, the case law of the Court of Cassation and various Venice Commission opinions regarding the unlawfulness of Fincancı’s arrest on charges of making propaganda for a terrorist organization. They requested the Court to rule that the case was unconstitutional.

After the lawyers’ statements, the judge said, “We will end the trial, we will finish the hearing,” and asked Fincancı to make her last statements. Lawyers objected to this and stated that their request for an unconstitutionality decision required an interim ruling by the Court, and that the judge tried to impose a sentence without listening to what happened at the hearing.

In her final statement Fincancı said, “This is not a legal case, it is a political case. It is a case bent on destroying the TTB, democratic principles, and the will of the society to claim its rights.”

After the defences, the Court adjourned the hearing. After the break, the Court ruled to sentence Fincancı to 2 years, 8 months and 15 days of imprisonment on charges of making propaganda for a terrorist organization. Considering the term she already served in prison and the term she was sentenced to serve, the Court decided to release Fincancı. The Court also decided to apply Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code. Accordingly, if the verdict against Korur Fincancı is upheld, Fincancı will not be able to practice her profession as a doctor and she will not be able to serve as the president of the TTB.

 

Courtroom sketch of defendant Prof Fincancı: Zeynep Özatalay

 

As PEN Norway, although we are happy to see Şebnem Korur Fincancı released, we strongly condemn the sentence that disregards her freedom of expression and that of society as a whole in Turkey. Following the objection of Korur Fincancı’s defence lawyers, we hope that the higher court will hand down a decision that will support and protect freedom of expression.

Prof. Dr. Fincancı’ya Tahliye

 

Türk Tabipleri Birliği (TTB) Merkez Konseyi Başkanı ve adli tıp uzmanı Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur-Fincancı hakkında iki buçuk ay sonra tahliye kararı verildi.

 

Fincancı’nın “örgüt propagandası” suçlamasıyla yargılandığı davanın üçüncü duruşması bugün İstanbul 24. Ağır Ceza Mahkemesi’nde görüldü.

 

Mahkeme, Korur Fincancı’yı “örgüt propagandası” suçlamasından 2 yıl 8 ay 15 gün hapis cezasına çarptırırken, tahliyesine karar verdi.

 

Korur Fincancı, Ekim 2022’de Avrupa’da yayın yapan Kürt televizyonu Medya Haber’de TSK’nın Irak Kürdistan Bölgesi’nde yürüttüğü askeri operasyonlarda kimyasal silah kullanıldığı iddialarına ilişkin yayımlanan görüntüleri değerlendirmesinin ardından, önce sosyal medyada hedef gösterilmiş, ardından da tutuklanmıştı.

 

Adliye önünde polis barikatı

 

Fincancı bu duruşmada da salona jandarma çemberinde getirildi.

 

Çok sayıda hekim, hak savunucusu ve gazetecinin yanısıra, PEN Norveç duruşma raportörü, Human Rights Watch (HRW), European Doctors (CPME) ve FİDH temsilcileri, Almanya başkonsolosu, AB Delegasyonu,  Hollanda, ABD, İsveç konsolosluklarından temsilciler duruşma salonunda hazır bulundu. İzleyiciler ve avukatlar salona sığmadı.

 

Duruşma salonunda sivil giyimli polisler de hazır bulundu. Duruşma boyunca savunmalar, polis telsizlerinin sesiyle kesildi.

 

Mahkeme, avukatların reddi hakim kararının reddedildiğini açıkladı. Diyarbakır Baro Başkanı Nahit Eren, ret kararının gerekçesinin net olmadığını söylerken, gerek duruşma salonundaki düzen, gerek üç avukat sınırlandırması gibi uygulamalarla mahkemenin adil yargılama hakkını ihlal ettiğini söyledi.

 

Önceki dönem İzmir Baro Başkanı Avukat Özkan Yücel de, bugün adliye girişinin polis barikatlarıyla kaplı olduğunu, yurttaşların adliyeye ve duruşma salonuna girişinin engellenmeye çalışıldığını anlatırken, savunma hakkının kısıtlandığını belirtti. Yücel, savcının telefonuyla oynamasına ve beyanları dinlememesine tepki gösterdi. Savcı, tüm duruşma boyunca telefonu ve önündeki bilgisayarın klavyesiyle meşgul olmaya devam etti.

 

Milli Savunma Bakanlığı avukatı, üçüncü kez duruşmaya gelerek davaya katılma talebinde bulundu. Mahkeme tüm talepleri reddetti.

 

Avukatlar: Hukuki değil siyasi bir dava

 

Şebnem Korur Fincancı’nın söz istemesi üzerine, mahkeme başkanı “Size önceki celsede de söz vermiştik ama yine verelim” dedi.

 

Sözlerine salondakilere teşekkür ederek başlayan Fincancı, “Artık siyasi iktidar dışında kimsenin ağzına kimyasal silah kelimesini alamaması, korku ikliminin yaratıldığını gösteriyor. Ama korkunun ecele faydası yok, Sayın Hakim” dedi.

 

Avukatlar Öztürk Türkdoğan, Hülya Yıldırım ve Meriç Eyüboğlu bunun siyasi bir dava olduğunu söylerken, suç unsurlarının oluşmadığını anlattı. Fincancı’nın örgüt propagandası suçlamasıyla tutuklanmasının hukuki olmadığına ilişkin emsal AİHM ve AYM kararlarını, Yargıtay içtihatlarını ve çeşitli Venedik Komisyonu görüşlerini mahkemeye sundular. Anayasaya aykırılık kararı verilmesini istediler.

 

Avukatların beyanlarından sonra hakim “Yargılamaya son vereceğiz, duruşmayı bitireceğiz” diyerek Fincancı’dan son sözlerini söylemesini istedi. Avukatlar buna itiraz etti, Anayasaya aykırılık talebinin bir ara karar gerektirdiğini, hakimin duruşmada olanları dinlemeden ceza vermeye çalıştığını söyledi.

 

Fincancı da son sözünde “Bu hukuki değil, siyasi bir dava. TTB’yi, demokratik ilkeleri yok etmek, toplumun hak arama iradesini yok etmek üzerine bir dava” diye konuştu.

 

Courtroom sketch of defendant Prof Dr Korur Fincancı by artist Zeynep Özatalay

 

Savunmaların ardından mahkeme ara verdi. Aradan sonra kararını açıklayan mahkeme, Fincancı’nın örgüt propagandası suçlamasından 2 yıl 8 ay 15 gün cezalandırılmasına karar verdi. Mahkeme, cezaevinde kaldığı süre ve verilen ceza miktarına bağlı olarak, Fincancı’nın tahliye edilmesine karar verdi. Mahkeme ayrıca Türk Ceza Kanunu’nun 53. Maddesinin uygulanmasına karar verdi. Buna göre, Korur Fincancı hakkındaki hüküm onanırsa Fincancı doktorluk mesleğini icra edemeyecek ve TTB başkanı olarak da görev yapması mümkün olmayacak.

 

PEN Norveç olarak Şebnem Korur Fincancı’nın özgürlüğüne kavuşmasından ötürü sevinçli olmakla birlikte, Korur Fincancı’nın ve tüm Türkiye toplumunun ifade özgürlüğünü hiçe sayan cezayı sert şekilde kınıyoruz. Umarız ki, Korur Fincancı’nın savunma avukatlarının karara itirazının akabinde üst mahkeme ifade özgürlüğünü koruyan bir karara imza atacaktır.

No release for Fincancı, again 

The second hearing of the trial against Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur-Fincancı, the President of the Union of Turkey’s Medical Associations (TBB) and a forensic medicine expert, was held today at the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul. Fincancı is on trial for the alleged crime of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”.

Fincancı’s lawyers said the trial was not fair or objective and requested the recusal of the judicial panel. The court rejected this request and ruled to continue Fincancı’s detention in prison.

Korur Fincancı was first targeted on social media and then arrested following her comments on images she had been shown in relation to the alleged use of chemical weapons in military operations carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Her comments were broadcast in October 2022 by the Kurdish television Medya Haber, based in Europe,

 

A wall of military police around Fincancı

Seven miliatary police accompanied Fincancı as she was brought to the court room, and she stood encircled by five of them throughout the trial.

More than 80 lawyers were present to defend Fincancı. The hearing was observed by a large crowd of medical doctors, rights defenders, and journalists, as well as diplomats from the Swiss and EU delegations and the German Consul General.  Parliamentary representatives included the HDP co-chairman as well as HDP and CHP party deputies. The courtroom proved to be too small for the large number of observers.

Lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu requested that the hearing be held in a larger hall to protect the right to a fair trial. Erkan Şenses, the President of the Batman Bar Association noted that the Court’s decision to limit the number of lawyers representing Fincancı to three was against the law. He stated that this limitation had become a law after the coup attempt and did not apply to the prosecution of the offence of making propaganda for the terrorist organization.

The prosecutor restated his previous opinion. The lawyer of the Ministry of National Defence restated his request to become a party in the case, which had been rejected by the Court in the previous hearing. This request was rejected once again and the Ministry’s lawyer took a seat among the defence lawyers and followed the hearing. Unable to enter the hall due to the large number of observers, some of Fincancı’s lawyers objected to this situation, but the judge rejected this objection, declaring that “he would decide whoever would be allowed in the court room”.

 

Fincancı: Lung damage? I wonder what kind of a propaganda impact it has

Following the objections of the lawyers as to the formalities, the Court proceeded to hear Fincancı’s statement. Saying that her actions were not an offence but a part of her responsibilities as a medical doctor and a citizen, Fincancı stated “I wonder how one could interpret a medical assessment as an act of propaganda and what kind of a possible propaganda impact lung damage could have”.

Financı mentioned the ruling party AKP officials who targeted her and said:

“We criticised them based on science but they accused us of terrorism, high treason, using improper language. If I am a terrorist, I wonder which organization I am a member of. The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey? Association of Palestinian Prisoners? International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRTC)? The President of the Republic calls me a terrorist in front of the public. Then how can members of the judiciary dare to think differently?

“Our struggle is about bringing new lives into the world and about letting them live their lives with dignity. And I don’t think this is a crime, and therefore I demand acquittal.”

 

The lawyers requested the recusal of the judicial panel.

 

Quoting some of the statements made by the judge in the courtroom, Fincancı’s lawyers claimed that the court conveyed the impression that it has been operating under the instructions of the prosecutor. “It seems everything has been already predetermined in the prosecutor’s opinion and we are the small actors just making a statement here.”

Restating that Fincancı was on trial because she demanded an effective investigation against the allegation that chemical weapons were used, Fincancı’s lawyers expressed their disbelief that the case in question was being handled objectively and fairly as the unlawfulness and smear campaigns have been going on since the start of the investigation. Lawyer Eyüboğlu said, “We are here today with the expectation that you will hand down a sentence anyway,” and claimed that they requested a recusal because of these reasons.

After the lawyers’ request for the recusal of the judicial panel, the hearing was adjourned for 20 minutes.

After the break, the presiding judge dismissed the recusal request “on the grounds that it was overdue and intended to prolong the hearing”.

 

The Court decided to continue Fincancı’s detention. The next hearing is on January 11, 2023. PEN Norway will be represented in the courtroom on January 11, 2023.

Judicial harassment of Prof. Dr. Fincancı must stop!

Continuing Detenetion for Prof. Dr. Fincancı at today’s first hearing

 

The trial against Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur-Fincancı, the President of the Turkish Medical Association (TBB) and a forensic medicine expert, began today at the 24th High Criminal Court of Istanbul in which she is charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”.

 

Many observers, politicians, medical doctors and rights defenders were present to observe the first hearing. Korur Fincancı was greeted with applause as she entered the courtroom.

 

Following a hearing that lasted approximately 5 hours, the court ruled to continue Korur Fincancı’s detention. The next hearing will be held on April 29, 2022 at 10:30.

 

Following her comments on the images regarding the alleged use of chemical weapons in military operations carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, which were aired in October 2022 by the Kurdish television Medya Haber based in Europe, Korur Fincancı was first targeted on social media and then arrested.

 

Court allowed defence team only three lawyers

 

To demonstrate their solidarity with Korur Fincancı, present at the courthouse were many rights defenders, medical doctors, heads of medical chambers, HDP and CHP deputies, representatives of various civil society organizations and political parties, heads of bar associations in Istanbul, Izmir, Van, Diyarbakir, representatives from the USA, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and Austria consulates and international rights organizations.

 

To defend Korur Fincancı, more than 800 lawyers submitted their licence to the court. Referring to the post-military coup legislation which states that only three lawyers could defend the accused, the judge ruled that only three lawyers would be allowed to defend Korur Fincancı.

 

The hearing was delayed for a while and many people, including journalists, observers, medical doctors and heads of medical chambers were unable to fit into the small courtroom.

 

Lawyers demanded the hearing to be moved to a larger courtroom. Reminding that only three lawyers were allowed to make the defence, however, the judge said there was no need for the hearing to be taken to a larger hall.

 

Korur Fincancı was transferred to Istanbul in handcuffs

 

The military police in the courtroom built a human shield between Korur Fincancı and her lawyers. The lawyers’ objection on this matter was rejected.

 

When the president of the court addressed the accused as “sen” (“you”, in second person singular as opposed to second person plural, as in French “vous”, t.n.) the lawyers and the audience reacted. The presiding judge, in explaining his attitude, said that he was not a kind person.

 

The lawyer of the Ministry of National Defence, who was in the courtroom, requested to become a party in the case. This request was rejected by the court on the grounds that the Ministry was not harmed by the crime. Defence lawyers also reacted to this request.

 

After these tense exchanges, the hearing continued with Şebnem Korur Fincancı’s statement. Korur Fincancı, who was detained in Sincan prison in Ankara, said that she was brought to Istanbul for the hearing by a transfer vehicle and kept in handcuffs throughout a 5-hour journey. She stated that this situation was a violation of human rights and fair trial requirements.

 

Korur Fincancı: An independent investigation is necessary to give a diagnosis on the images

 

Korur Fincancı said that the principle of presumption of innocence has been violated since the very beginning, and that the arrest warrant for her was presented to the press before her lawyers. Referring to the indictment, Korur Fincancı explained that the prosecutor who prepared the indictment had insufficient knowledge of forensic medicine and she expanded upon the statement that was the subject of her trial.

 

“The medical evaluation I made on the symptoms visible in the video, which took me to the reasonable conclusion that ‘a toxic gas was obviously used’, is a ‘pre-diagnosis’. Because it is only possible to determine whether a prohibited weapon was used or not, after an examination is conducted at the scene of the incident, laboratory examinations are carried out of the samples taken and autopsies of the bodies are performed in the light of the Minnesota Protocol, the connection between the scene of the incident and the alleged incident is established, a chemical agent is detected, complete with effective documentation. Therefore, it is not possible to identify the culprits without an effective investigation.

 

“Therefore,” she continued,  “the medical opinion I have stated in the program was but a preliminary diagnosis. A diagnosis requires an effective and independent investigation and documentation.”

 

Lawyers: No requirements were met during the investigation process

 

Then, lawyers Meriç Eyüboğlu, Gulan Çağın Kaleli and Hülya Yıldırım gave their statements. The lawyers explained that the statements subject to trial did not meet the requirements for the charge of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” (Anti-Terorr Law Article 7/2). The lawyers claimed that their client was arrested after her statements that fall under academic and scientific expertise and freedom were targeted. They stated that no legal requirements were met during the investigation and prosecution process.

 

Eyüboğlu said, “My client said that the images appeared to give the impression of an involvement of a toxic agent, but also that independent committees should conduct an on-site examination of any deceased individuals to fully understand the matter. As she was talking about the need to conduct an on-site investigation, we cannot understand what our client is being accused of.”

 

Court: As it is understood that any judicial measure will be insufficient

 

Announcing his opinion after the lawyers, the prosecutor demanded that Korur Fincancı be penalized with the maximum penalty prescribed for the offense of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”.

 

The lawyers took the floor against the prosecutor’s opinion and stated that there was no legal justification for the continuation of her detention.

 

Korur Fincancı said, “It is very difficult to be under arrest, but it is an invaluable blessing for a human rights defender. We have always been demanding for an examination into the prisons, which was never approved.  Therefore, the fact that the state itself sent me to a prison is valuable.”

 

Claiming that the implementation of any judicial control measure would be insufficient, the judicial panel ruled to continue Korur Fincancı’s detention. The next hearing will be held on December 29, 2022 and Korur Fincancı will be held in Bakırköy Women’s Prison in Istanbul until that time.

PEN Norway will continue to monitor this outrageous, illegal targeting of our colleague and stand in solidarity with Prof. Korur Fincancı until she is cleared of all charges.

PEN Norway & PEN International call for release of Prof Dr Şebnem Korur Fincancı

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT:

 

Türkiye: Release prominent academic and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı

 

28 October 2022 – We, PEN Norway and PEN International, express our extreme concern at the formal arrest yesterday of prominent academic, forensic scientist, and leading human rights defender Prof. Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, on charges of disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organisation.

 

President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations (Türk Tabipler Birliği – TTB) and board member of the Human Rights Foundation of Türkiye (HRFT), Fincancı was taken into custody on 26 October 2022 in relation to comments made in a live interview on the Medya TV channel regarding the possible use of chemical weapons employed by the Turkish armed forces against members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Fincancı was restrained in her comments to Kurdish media, asking for a full investigation to be carried out and declaring that she could not confirm the use of chemical gas unless she were to make a formal forensic examination.

 

Fincancı has been arrested on charges of ‘disseminating propaganda for a terrorist organisation’ under Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law No. 3713 despite her comments clearly falling under the remit of freedom of expression.

 

A further case has been lodged to remove Fincancı from her role as President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations.

 

There is a clear vendetta against our colleague who has been the subject of protracted judicial harrassment, of late in the Özgür Gündem case in which she and co-defendants Erol Önderoğlu and Ahmet Aziz Nesin are undergoing a retrial for acting as guest editors of the Kurdish daily during a country-wide solidarity campaign in 2016. This is despite the court ruling to acquit all three on 17 July 2019.  Fincancı was also one of the ‘Academics for Peace’ where 2,212 academics were signatories of a petition calling for a restart to peace negotiations in the South-east of Türkiye.  Fincancı was tried for her participation and acquitted of all charges.

 

PEN International President Burhan Sonmez said of Fincancı’s arrest: ‘PEN International stands in solidarity with Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı. We urgently call for her immediate and unconditional release, and for all charges against her to be dropped. Her shocking detention and arrest constitute yet another attempt to silence independent voices in Türkiye. We have repeatedly called on the authorities to stop using anti-terrorism laws to target dissenting views and to uphold the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to give and receive information. Şebnem Korur Fincancı should not be prosecuted merely for peacefully expressing her views and must be released at once.’

 

PEN Norway President Kjersti Løken Stavrum said: ‘We are extremely concerned to hear the news of her formal arrest yesterday for carefully recommending an investigation into a claim concerning the use of chemical weapons in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This is the clearest example of the violation of Fincancı’s right to freedom of expression. Fincancı did not make a direct accusation but merely shared a cautious professional opinion in line with her professional role as forensic scientist and President of the Union of Turkish Medical Associations. We will not stand by and allow our colleague to be attacked with false charges and we demand her immediate release and the dropping of all charges against her.’

 

PEN Norway and PEN International will be following this matter very closely and are in full solidarity with our colleague Fincancı, who is one of Türkiye’s leading human rights defenders. We demand that Fincancı is released from detention immediately and unconditionally, and that all charges are withdrawn.

 

Media queries

 

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