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Turkey: IBAHRI and ICJ welcome the acquittal of Gezi Park trial defendants

Wednesday 19 February 2020

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcome today’s ruling by the Istanbul 30th Assize Court that acquitted all 16 defendants in the Gezi Park case due to insufficient evidence.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, IBAHRI Director, commented: ‘We have watched this trial closely, with senior lawyers attending all hearings as observers. It is a case that should never have been brought to court, for those who faced trial suffered untold anguish. However such injustice has become all too common in Turkey, where the rule of law and human rights have lost meaning. We live in hope this augurs a return to sanity and due process.’

The acquitted defendants include: principal defendant, Osman Kavala; and 15 others: Ali Hakan Altinay, Ayse Mücella Yapici, Ayse Pinar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çigdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yilmaz, Handan Meltem Arikan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoglu, Inanç Ekmekci, Memet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Serafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yigit Aksakoglu and Yigit Ali Ekmekçi.

turkey protests

The two international organisations sent observers to attend the criminal trial where the defendants were charged under the following articles of the Turkish Criminal Code:

  • Article 312 (an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government or an attempt to prevent it from fulfilling its duties);
  • Article 151 (damage to property);
  • Article 152 (qualified damage to property);
  • Article 174 (possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission);
  • Article 153 (damaging places of worship and cemeteries);
  • Article 149 (qualified robbery);
  • Article 86 (intentional injury); and
  • crimes under the Law on Firearms, Knives and Other Tools no. 6136 and crimes under the Law on Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets no. 2863.

The Gezi Park protests began in May 2013 as an effort by a group of environmentalists to save a park in central Istanbul from being rezoned, but soon grew into nationwide demonstrations. Police quelled the protests in Taksim Square with the use of tear gas and water cannons. Following a six-year investigation into the events, the 657-page indictment issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office was accepted by the 30th Assize Court in Istanbul on 4 March 2019.

Today’s ruling follows a 2019 decision of the European Court of Human Rights that Osman Kavala should be released immediately.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. The The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.
  2. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
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