Trial follows on the heels of a Constitutional Court judgement, which held that Kural’s detention in 2015 violated freedom of expression, freedom of the press and prohibition of ill-treatment
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
Three police officers who violently detained former Bianet reporter Beyza Kural in 2015 as she was covering a demonstration in Istanbul appeared before court on 24 September 2021 for the second hearing of their trial.
The police officers are charged with “Violation of the freedom to work or labor by using force, threats or by any other unlawful act” under Article 117/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which carries a penalty of imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 2 years, or a judicial fine.
The trial, overseen by the Istanbul 35th Criminal Court of First Instance, follows on the heels of a Constitutional Court judgment rendered in January 2021, which held that Kural’s detention violated three provisions of the Constitution: freedom of expression, freedom of the press and prohibition of ill-treatment.
P24 monitored the hearing. None of the three police officers were in attendance. They were represented in the courtroom by their lawyer, Burak Turan. The plaintiff, Kural, and her lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu were present in the courtroom. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Turkey Representative Erol Önderoğlu and Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) executive Mustafa Kuleli were among spectators observing the hearing.
The lawyer representing the police officers asked the court to grant his client Y.Ş. exemption from attending court because he is currently stationed abroad.
Kural’s lawyer told the court that the request concerning Y.Ş. should be submitted to court in writing and that the court should issue a decision after that. Eyüboğlu also demanded that she and her client be present in court when it hears the statement of N.D., who is currently deployed in Diyarbakır, via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS.
The prosecutor asked the court to reject the request concerning Y.Ş. at this point. Issuing an interim ruling, the court granted Y.Ş. exemption from attending hearings and decided to hear N.D. via SEGBİS at the next hearing, scheduled for 10 December 2021.
Commenting on the trial following the hearing, Eyüboğlu said: “The rights violations determined by the Constitutional Court are not addressed in the indictment. The shortcomings in the indictment are also affecting the trial. The defendant who did not attend the first hearing has still not been brought to court, despite the court’s order. The lawyer representing the officer who assaulted my client asked the court to grant his client exemption from attending hearings on the grounds that he is stationed overseas. Despite the prosecutor demanding that the court reject this request, the court granted the defendant exemption from attending hearings without explaining the grounds for its decision. The defendants have to be in the courtroom so that the shortcomings in the indictment can be discussed.”