Academic for Peace Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel Acquitted

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Charged with “membership of a terrorist organization”, Academic for Peace Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel has been acquitted in his final hearing today.

Academic for Peace Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel from Lyon-1 University of France has been acquitted of "membership of a terrorist organization".

Having his third and final hearing at the Balıkesir 2nd Heavy Penal Court today (January 24), Altınel has been acquitted.

Altınel previously served 81 days behind bars on the offense charged.

Announcing his opinion as to the accusations in the previous hearing on November 19, 2019, the prosecutor demanded that Altınel be penalized on charge of "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" over his attendance to a conference entitled "Cizre: The story of a massacre".

In today's hearing, Altınel made his defense as to the accusations and made the court board and the audience listen to the voice records regarding the organization of the conference in question.

'People were given bones and said "It is your father"'

Altınel also made people listen to the voice records of the people who took shelter in basements in Cizre during curfews.* "People were given bones in bags and said 'It is your father'," said Altınel in the hearing.

In his defense at court, Tuna Altınel stated, "It is a call for peace. It does not have anything to do with a terrorist organization. I have been acquitted in my trial heard by the İstanbul 29th Heavy Penal Court. Today, I am still standing trial here on the ground that I propagandized for a terrorist organization. I want this contradiction to be eliminated."

Referring to the Constitutional Court verdict of right violation on Academics for Peace, Tuna Altınel underlined that "what was happening in the current trial was a violation of freedom of thought and expression as previously indicated by the Constitutional Court verdict."

Pronouncing its ruling after the statements of defense, the court has ruled that the academic shall be acquitted of the offense charged.

What happened?

Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel from the Department of Mathematics at Lyon-1 University was arrested in Turkey's western province of Balıkesir on May 11, 2019 on the ground of a conference held in France.

Altınel was taken into custody on May 10, when he he went to the Balıkesir Civil Registry to inquire about the restriction imposed on his passport. Being referred to court on duty by the Prosecutor's Office to be arrested, the academic was arrested and sent to Kepsut Type L Prison.

The academic was charged with "membership of a terrorist organization" on the ground that he did simultaneous interpreting at a conference on "Cizre basements"* held in France in 2019.

In his first hearing on July 30, the court ruled for the release of Tuna Altınel without imposing any judicial control measures. Though no international travel ban has been imposed on the academic, his confiscated passport has not yet been returned to him without any legal grounds.

About Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel

Arrested and imprisoned in Turkey, Assoc. Prof. Tuna Altınel is an academic who has made significant contributions to the academia in universities abroad, primarily in France since 1996.

Altınel graduated from the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science of Boğaziçi University in İstanbul. He completed his PhD studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, with Cherlin as his doctoral advisor.

With Alexandre Borovik and Gregory Cherlin, he proved an important example of Cherlin-Zilber conjecture. Having published 26 articles in his field so far, Altınel is specialized in group theory and mathematical logic. (TP/SD)

 * When the curfew, which was in effect in Cizre in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak as of December 14, 2015, was lifted on March 2, 2016, 177 dead bodies, 25 of which belonged to children, were found in the wreckages and debris of mainly 3 buildings and the houses in their vicinity. While the 103 of the deceased could be identified, 74 people were put to rest without being identified. The total number of the dead has been announced as 189. According to the report of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), almost all of the dead bodies were beyond recognition because they were either burned or decomposed. The remnants of human bones and military ammunition were found in the basements. Forensic Experts also found remnants of human bones of children in the basements.