Acquittal for Three Academics for Peace in Diyarbakır, Five Academics in İstanbul

Yazar / Referans: 
Tansu Pişkin, Bianet

Diyarbakır 11th Heavy Penal Court has ruled for the acquittal of three academics and İstanbul 28th Heavy Penal Court has ruled for the acquittal of five Academics for Peace signatory to the declaration “We will not be a party to this crime”.

Trial of academics, 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" prepared by the Academics for Peace, continued in Diyarbakır and İstanbul today (September 9).

Having their final hearings at the Diyarbakır 11th Heavy Penal Court, professors Süleyman Kızıl, Murat Biricik and Fikret Uyar from Dicle University have been separately acquitted.

Announcing its verdict, the details of which will be announced in the justified ruling, the court has concluded that "the legal elements of the offense charged against defendants did not arise." Accordingly, it has ruled for the acquittal of all three Academics for Peace.

Prosecutor demanded acquittal

In their last statement before the court, the academics repeated their previous statements of defense and requested their acquittal.

The prosecutor of the hearing announced the same opinion as to the accusations in all three hearings. Referring to the verdict of "violation of right" previously given by the Constitutional Court, the prosecutor indicated that the legal elements of the offense "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" were not met. The prosecutor demanded acquittal for the academics.

The court has ruled that all three academics shall be acquitted. 

Five academics acquitted in İstanbul

At the İstanbul 28th Heavy Penal Court, a verdict of acquittal has been given for five Academics for Peace without holding an open hearing.

Among the acquitted academics are Assoc. Prof. Sevilay Çelenk from Ankara University, Prof. Cem Terzi from Dokuz Eylül University and Faculty Member Abdullah Deveci from Eskişehir Anadolu University. That being the case, the lawsuits of nine academics have ended in acquittal so far.

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 September 9, 2019, 640 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017, all the 204 academics whose cases were concluded were 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; 18 academics to 1 year, 10 months and 15 days in prison; 17 academics to 2 years and 3 months in prison; 7 academics to 2 years and 6 months in prison; 5 academics to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic to 3 years in prison.

Non-deferred prison sentences for 36 people

Of these 204 people, the verdicts of conviction of 36 academics in total were not deferred; while the verdicts of 29 people were not 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 were not 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 was arrested on May 8, 2019 to be released on July 22.

Constitutional Court said "violation of right"

The General Assembly of the Constitutional Court examined the individual applications of 10 Academics for Peace sentenced to prison on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the peace declaration.

On July 26, 2019, the Court ruled that the penalization of Academics for Peace on charge of "terror propaganda" has violated their freedom of expression.

The Court decided that a copy of this judgement shall be sent to all local courts in order to eliminate this right's violation and advised for retrial. The court also ruled to pay each applicant 9 thousand TRY in reparations.

After the new judicial year opened on September 2, the first verdict of acquittal for an Academic for Peace in accordance with the Constitutional Court ruling was given by the İstanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court.

Constitutional Court ruling and its consequences

The ruling of the Constitutional Court stipulates that the local courts shall hold re-trials and give verdicts of acquittal in ongoing cases and for finalized sentences and the courts of appeal shall reverse the judgements in question.

The State of Emergency Commission, which has not yet given its decision regarding the applications of discharged academics, shall also take the Constitutional Court ruling into account. However, it can still give contrary rulings.

In the event that the Commission gives a decision against the academics, they will have the right to appeal to the Council of State. Though the Constitutional Court ruling is binding for the Council of State, any possible failure to withdraw the decisions of discharge will also be examined by the Constitutional Court.

You can reach all news on Trials of Academics here

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