First Verdict of Acquittal for Academics for Peace After Constitutional Court Ruling

Yazar / Referans: 
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet

Academic Özlem Şendeniz has been acquitted after the Constitutional court ruled in July that the sentences violate the academics' freedom of expression.

A court ruled for a verdict of acquittal for the first time in the trial of the Academics for Peace who have been charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the declaration entitled "We will not be a party to this crime." 

İstanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court ruled for the acquittal of Research Associate Özlem Şendeniz from the Iğdır University in the final hearing at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan.

Stating that he changed his opinion as to the accusations where he requested a sentence upon the Anti-Terror Law Article 7/2, the prosecutor explained his new opinion. He requested the acquittal of the defendant, citing the Constitutional Court ruling which said the declaration is within the scope of freedom of expression.

CLICK - Constitutional Court: Freedom of Expression of Academics for Peace Violated

The General Assembly of the Constitutional Court on July 26 concluded the individual applications of ten academics, ruling that the freedom of expression of the academics was violated. 

The court also ruled that the applicants shall be paid 9 thousand liras (~1575 US dollars) of compensation, the rights violation shall be removed and a copy of the decision shall be sent to local courts for retrial.

According to the ruling, local courts shall rule for a retrial in the continuing and finalised cases. The courts of appeal shall overturn sentences.

The Commission of State of Emergency, which has not yet concluded the applications by academics, should also take the ruling into consideration.

Academics can apply to the Council of State if they are rejected by the Commission. The Constitutional court ruling is binding for the Council of State. In case it does not remove the decisions of dismissal, the Constitutional Court will evaluate the subject.

About the Trials of Academics

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime" on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.

With the participation of further academics, the number of academics who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212.

With the indictment issued by the Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, lawsuits were filed against the academics on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.

As of July 26, 2019, 646 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017, all the 204 academics whose cases were concluded have been sentenced to prison. 146 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 8 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; 16 academics to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison; 17 academics to 2 years and 3 months in prison; seven academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; five academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic to 3 years in prison.

Non-deferred prison sentences for 35 people

Of these 204 people, the verdicts of conviction of 36 academics in total have not been deferred; while the verdicts of 29 people have not been deferred as their prison terms are over 2 years (as per the Article 286 of the Law on Criminal Courts, the verdicts of 7 academics have not been deferred as they did not accept the deferment of the announcement of their verdicts.

With her 15-month prison sentence upheld by the court of appeal, Academic for Peace Prof. Dr. Füsun Üstel has been arrested since May 8, 2019.

The academics given non-deferred prison sentences are as follows:

Ayşe Erzan, Özdemir Aktan, Nesrin Sungur Çakmak, Füsun Üstel, Büşra Ersanlı, Lütfiye Bozdağ, Şebnem Korur Fincancı, Özgür Müftüoğlu, Yonca Demir, Gençay Gürsoy, M.A., Alper Akyüz, Ahmet Bekmen, Nihan Aksakallı, Hülya Kirmanoğlu, İsmet Akça, Haydar Durak, İlkay Özküralpli, Öznur Yaşar Diner, Remzi Orkun Güner, Esra Kaliber, Eda Aslı Şeran, Aysuda Kölemen, İlkay Yılmaz, Zeynep Tül Süalp, L.N., S.A., Gevher Gökçe, Çare Olgun Çalışkan, Nevin Zeynep Yelçe, Ali Kerem Saysel, Koray Çalışkan, S.I. Süreyya Topaloğlu, Ayşe Gül Altınay, Noemi Levy Aksu.

You can reach all news on Trials of Academics here

On March 10, 2016, the Academics for Peace made a statement for press and shared with the public what they had been going through since the declaration "We will not be a party to this crime" was published. The academics Dr. Lecturer Esra Mungan, Dr. Lecturer Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kıvanç Ersoy (March 15, 2016) and Dr. Lecturer Meral Camcı (March 31, 2016), who read out the statement for press, were arrested on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law. They were released on April 2016. Upon the request of the Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Justice granted a permission of trial as per the Article No. 301 of the Turkish Penal Code No. 301 on charges of "insulting the Turkish Nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey and the institutions and organs of the government."

You can reach the statements of Academics for Peace in English here