Lawyers on hunger strike

The application to attend the hearing by the People’s Law Office and Contemporary Jurists Association lawyers who are being compelled to present their defences via video link has been dismissed for reasons such as travelling distance, security and the vehicle and staffing situation.

03 Eylül 2018 Pazartesi, 14:07

Twenty lawyer members of the People’s Law Office and Contemporary Jurists Association, seventeen of them in detention, will be brought before the judges on Monday 10 September following 363 days. Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 37 undersigned a scandalous decision while examining the detained lawyers’ detention on 27 August 2018 The lawyers’ applications at the conclusion of the examination expressing their unwillingness to present defences by video link and asking for their attendance at the hearing to be facilitated were dismissed on the grounds of “travelling distance,” “risks that may be posed to security” and “the vehicle and staffing situation.” Extension of the lawyers’ detention was also ordered.

Voicing discontent that the detained lawyers’ families and children would not be brought to the hearing, they said, “Travelling time was not taken into consideration when the lawyers were dispatched to other provinces as soon as they had been detained. This decision, passed to prevent them from presenting their defences, is unacceptable.” It has been learnt that the detained lawyers have decided to start a hunger strike as of today in response to the video link imposition and will continue their action until the day of the hearing.

“Did they commit murder?”

Mother of Aytaç Ünsal, Attorney-at-Law, who is being held in detention in Burhaniye T- Type Prison, Nermin Ünsal, Attorney-at-Law, recalling that her son and his colleagues had been sent to prisons outside Istanbul immediately following their detention, said, “With each one of them being dispatched somewhere, no consideration was given to the vehicle situation, expenses and the families. Did the detained lawyers commit murder for a point such as security reasons to be cited? Additionally, a summons was drafted for the lawyers detained in Silivri Prison, Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Yaprak Türkmen, to be brought to the hearing. There are lawyers who are detained in Edirne and Tekirdağ. Why are they not brought? Are Edirne and Tekirdağ much further than Silivri?”

The statement made by the People’s Law Office included the following, “The people’s lawyers who were arrested on 12 September 2017 in raids on their offices and homes and were detained on 20 September will appear before the judges after having spent one year in detention. But they will be unable to do so. Why not? Because it is not wished to bring the people’s lawyers, who are on trial and whose punishment is sought for their professional activities, to the hearing. It is wished for them to be connected via video link to the courtroom from the prisons where they are being held. Despite constant objections being raised against this, the court forever overrules these. By way of reasons for overruling, things such as travel expenses, travelling distance and security reasons are cited by way of pretext. Detained lawyers have previously been detained pending trial but have been brought to hearings. What is desired for here is the wish for our colleagues not to be brought to the hearing.”

There is a simple solution

Stating that there is a very simple solution to the situation that has presented itself, the statement notes, “The lawyers can be brought from the provinces where they are being held to prisons in the province in which the hearing is to be held. At the end of the hearing, those who are released will go home and those who are not will be taken back to the prison where they are being held. The court’s decision is not legal. Had it been legal, they would all have been brought to the hearing. There is an indictment void of content, they are being tried with their imprisonment for tens of years sought on baseless aspersions and they are being deprived of their rights to speak before the judges.”