Court rules to send Yıldız’s file to Istanbul 3rd High Criminal Court to be merged with the ongoing “KCK Press Trial”
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
The first hearing of jailed journalist Rawin Sterk Yıldız’s trial on “membership of a terrorist organization” and “ terrorism propaganda” charges took place on 2 September 2020 at the 34th High Criminal Court of Istanbul.
P24 monitored the hearing, where Yıldız, who has been jailed since March 2020 at the Sincan Prison in Ankara, addressed the court via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS due to Covid-19 measures.
Yıldız’s lawyers Özcan Kılıç and Gürsoy Demir were present in the courtroom. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu was among those monitoring the hearing.
Addressing the court for his defense statement, Yıldız explained that the indictment against him gave the false impression that he had faced an arrest warrant or a criminal investigation before being arrested. “This is impossible, because I passed through four different police checkpoints on my way to the Edirne Pazarkule border area,” Yıldız explained. He added: “An attempt on my part at fleeing the country is out of the question because I faced no restrictions on traveling overseas.”
Noting that there were factual errors in the indictment against him, Yıldız said the allegation in the indictment that he “made terrorism propaganda” was also unfounded. Yıldız added: “The case filed against me in Istanbul is almost identical with the trial in Adana, where I was acquitted.” Adding that his two children and his ailing father needed him, Yıldız requested to be released pending trial.
The prosecution then asked the court to transfer Yıldız’s file to the 3rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul to be merged with the ongoing “KCK Press Trial” and requested the continuation of the journalist’s detention on remand citing the classification of the accusations.
Yıldız’s lawyers Özcan Kılıç and Gürsoy Demir addressed the court next. Kılıç asserted that the indictment against his client lacked the grounds for the “membership of a terrorist organization” accusation. Demir told the court that Yıldız was in Edirne to cover the refugee crisis as a journalist and requested his client’s release pending trial on the grounds that the elements of the leveled accusations were not present.
Announcing its decision at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to release Yıldız under an international travel ban and to send his case file to the 3rd High Criminal Court of Istanbul for joinder.
Yıldız was arrested on 29 February 2020 on the allegation of “border violation” as he was covering the refugee crisis near the Turkish-Greek border. On 3 March, he was transferred to Ankara by anti-terror police. The criminal judgeship of peace Yıldız was referred to on 6 March ruled to jail him pending trial on the charge of “terrorism propaganda.”