Gezi Park Case: Files of the Human Rights Defenders Separated
PEN Norway observed the fifth hearing of the recommenced Gezi Park trial
Reported by: Çiçek Tahaoğlu
The trial of 16 rights defenders, including Osman Kavala, and 35 people from the Çarşı, the supporter group of the Beşiktaş football team, over the Gezi Park protests, continued at Istanbul’s 13th High Criminal Court today (February 21).
The court ruled to separate the files of Çarşı supporters and the Gezi trial human rights defenders.
The next hearing will be held on March 21.
“Attempting to Destroy the Republic by Making a Movie”
The trial began with the statement of one of the defendants, filmmaker Çiğdem Mater. Mater stated that she was accused of “attempting to destroy the Republic of Turkey by making a movie” and said that the indictment consisted of unlawful wiretaps and dealt with a movie that has never been made. She said, “the indictment is a mere case of copying and pasting. Such a case deserves due consideration as so many people are tried for aggravated life sentences.”
Mater has been abroad for a while for her professional activities and stated that she handed over her passport to the police while entering Turkey.
Kavala did not attend this hearing either. Kavala, who has been under a continued pre-trial detention for 4 years now, had issued a written statement after President Erdoğan’s statements targeting him on October 2021, and stated that “a fair trial has now become impossible” and that he would no longer attend the hearings.
“The indictment is not a legal text but a political one”
Lawyer Tolga Aytöre said that the indictment was an unlawful one, and even a criminal one as such. “This indictment does not contain any legal motives. It is written for the politicians, not for the court to read. The impartiality of the court is nowhere to be found. That the court approved such an indictment already made it a party to a political opinion,” he said. He requested that the court withdraw from the case.
The lawyers of the Çarşı defendants and the human rights defenders both repeated their requests for the separation of their files.
The prosecutor considered the separation of the files of Çarşı defendants and human rights defenders. He requested that the file of rights defenders be sent to the prosecutor’s office for his opinion on the merits and that Osman Kavala’s detention be continued.
Lawyer Köksal Bayraktar took the floor once again after the prosecutor expressed his opinion. Stating that the prosecutor’s opinion, voiced after a pre-trial detention that lasted for 4 years was biased, Bayraktar criticized the fact that the prosecutor’s opinions lacked any concrete justifications.
Aggravated life imprisonments are sought for the defendants
16 rights defenders had been tried in the main Gezi Park Case and 35 football fans in Çarşı Case, both of which ended with the Court returning an acquittal. In both cases, however, the acquittal was overturned at the appeal court. This led to the merging of the files of the human rights defenders and football fans into one, and the whole trial process was recommenced.
In its judgment on December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Kavala’s ongoing pre-trial detention constituted a violation of his rights. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe launched the ‘infringement proceedings’ against Turkey on the grounds that the country violated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
In the case file, the Gezi Park protests that took place in 2013 are described as “an attempted coup”. Among the accusations levelled against the defendants are “attempting to overthrow the government, damage to property, possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission, damaging places of worship and cemeteries, qualified robbery, aggravated injury, and violating the Law on the Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties”, and aggravated life imprisonments are requested. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and some ministers of the 61st government cabinet are among the 746 plaintiffs in the indictment.