Fincancı, who has been in pre-trial detention since October 2022, was sentenced to 2 years 8 months and 15 days in prison
TANSU PİŞKİN, İSTANBUL
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) President and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı was convicted of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” in a trial launched over her remarks calling for an investigation into allegations that the military used chemical weapons against the PKK targets in northern Iraq.
The İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court sentenced Fincancı to 2 years 8 months and 15 days in prison but released her pending appeal. She was in pre-trial detention since 27 October 22.
The court announced its verdict at the end of the third hearing, which was monitored by P24, as well as deputies from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and representatives of national and international human rights groups. Fincancı and a large number of lawyers representing her were present at the courtroom. As in previous hearings, the courtroom was packed and many observers had to remain outside.
At the start of the trial, the court panel announced that the Ministry of Defense has submitted a request once again to join the case as a co-plaintiff. The presiding judge then asked the prosecutor of his requests, upon which he repeated his final opinion on the case, which was submitted to the court during the first hearing and called for Fincancı’s conviction of “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization” and continuation of her pre-trial detention pending appeal.
Fincancı’s lawyers objected to the court’s decisions to limit the number of lawyers to address the session to three and to refuse to move the hearing to a bigger courtroom despite the large audience. They also criticized the extensive security measures taken in and outside of the courthouse.
“Murder is not enough to keep people in prison in this country but stating scientific opinion is”
The court panel, however, rejected the procedural requests and asked Fincancı to make her final statement. Fincancı said the real target in the case was the TTB because of its opposition to many government policies in many areas ranging from public health to environment and academic freedom. “We are being targeted because we oppose violence against health workers; we do not want city hospitals that steal our future; we revealed the true nature of the government during the pandemic; we look out for nature, trees, and all living beings. We are being targeted because we support autonomy in the universities; we say that health institution does not operate properly in a country where democracy does not exist," she said.
She said the TTB, despite government efforts to undermine it, was the most trusted public institution during the pandemic. The society, on the other hand, does not trust the judiciary. “69 percent of the society does not trust the justice system. One out of every two people believe that people are put in prison because of their thoughts and one out of every three people believe political opponents are punished by the judiciary,” she said to the judges, adding “it must be saddening for you that this is how the society thinks of you," she said.
Fincancı went on to criticize political prosecutions saying: “Killing people is not enough to keep a person in prison in this country but expressing a scientific opinion is.”
Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court sentenced Fincancı to 2 years 8 months and 15 days in prison on the charge of terrorism propaganda under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. The court ordered Fincancı’s release pending appeal, based on the time she already served in detention and the length of the prison sentence she was given.
Fincancı was arrested on 26 October in a raid on her home in İstanbul as part of an investigation launched into her remarks to Medya Haber TV earlier in the month. She was taken to Ankara following her arrest and imprisoned pending trial. She was brought from an Ankara prison to İstanbul for her first court hearing, at the end of which the court ruled to keep her in detention in an İstanbul prison.