Urgent Interventions

Judicial harassment of Pinar Selek continues as Istanbul Heavy Penal Court decides to amend her acquittal and request her conviction


TURKEY: Judicial harassment ofPinar Selek continues as Istanbul Heavy Penal Court decides to amend her acquittal and request her conviction

Paris-Geneva,November 27, 2012. The Observatory forthe Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of theInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), is deeply appalled by the last decision of IstanbulHeavy Penal Court No. 12 to amend Pinar Selek's acquittal. The 14-year oldjudicial ordeal faced by the activist may therefore continue several moreyears.

On November 22, 2012,Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 decided to amend its previous decision toacquit Ms. Pinar Selek, a writer and sociologist who has been activelydefending the rights of vulnerable communities in Turkey, in a criminal casethat has been ongoing since 1998. In addition, the Presiding Judge, who wasreplacing the ordinary presiding judge on sick leave, requested thecondemnation of Pinar Selek to life imprisonment before setting a new date fora hearing on December 13, 2012 to hear the observations of the accused.According to defence lawyers, this decision is unprecedented in Turkish legalhistory.

The Observatory recalls that,in 1998, Pinar Selek was in turn accused without proof of supporting theKurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and then of causing a bomb to explode inIstanbul’s Egyptian bazaar on July 9 of the same year. On the basis of theseaccusations, she was detained and subjected to torture and ill-treatment duringtwo years, until her provisional release in 2000.

The court’s investigationslargely confirmed the absence of any bomb and attributed the explosion to a gasleak; in addition the other defendant in the case who had accused her duringinterrogation withdrew his statement during the trial. Accordingly, IstanbulHeavy Penal Court No. 12 acquitted her on three occasions: in 2006, 2008, andfor the last time on February 9, 2011. Nonetheless, following appeals by theProsecutor, the Court of Cassation quashed the first two acquittal decisions.As of today, Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12's last decision of acquittalmade in 2011 has not been examined by the Court of Cassation and has thereforethe effect of res judicata. Therefore, by amending one of its ownrulings, Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 12 has unlawfully has misused itspowers its competence in violation of Articles 223, 287 and 307/3 of the PenalProcedure Code.

In consequence of the above,the judicial harassment may potentially continue several more years thoughthere is no evidence incriminating Pinar Selek. The Observatory recalls that asa consequence of this judicial harassment and under the threat of a newarbitrary arrest, her life and work in Turkey has been severely disrupted.

Notonly does the court decision violate Turkish law, in that it blatantlydisregards the authority of its own decisions as res judicata, but it alsoviolates the right to a fair trial as well as the right to freedom ofexpression, laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights and theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified byTurkey. The endless delays in rendering justice clearly amount to a denial ofjustice!”, denounced Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

Thisjudicial harassment is unprecedented. If the Court confirms this decision, wecan conclude that there is no more legal certainty in Turkey”,added Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General. “We firmly condemn this decision, and call upon the judiciaryauthorities of Turkey to review it immediately”, he concluded.

More generally, theObservatory further reiterates its call on the Turkish authorities toimmediately and unconditionally put an end to the uninterrupted harassment thathas been targeting Pinar Selek for more than 14 years, as it seems to merelyaim at sanctioning her for her legitimate exercise of the freedom of opinionand expression.

For further information, pleasecontact:

FIDH:Audrey Couprie / Arthur Manet: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: + 41 22809 49 39

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