Twenty-two journalists who were violently detained during the August 2016 raid on the newspaper’s Istanbul office are charged with “preventing police officers from performing their duty” and “insult”
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
A trial in which 22 journalists and media workers violently detained during an August 2016 police raid on Özgür Gündem newspaper’s Istanbul office are charged with “preventing police officers from performing their duty” under Article 265/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and “insulting a public official” (TCK 125/1, 125/3-a) was held on 1 July 2021 at the Istanbul 5th Criminal Court of First Instance. This was the 10th hearing in the trial, which got under way on 9 February 2018.
P24 monitored the hearing, where none of the journalists on trial were in attendance. They were represented by their lawyers, Özcan Kılıç, Sercan Korkmaz, Hazal Pekşen Demirhan and Cemal Polat.
Submitting their final opinion during the hearing, the prosecutor demanded that the court convict all 22 journalists as charged.
Addressing the court following the prosecutor, lawyer Özcan Kılıç requested that the CD containing footage from the raid be examined by an expert. Adding that he was at the scene and was also assaulted by police during the raid, Kılıç said there were factual errors in the prosecutor’s final opinion. Kılıç told the judge: “If you watch the footage, you will see the truth. We demand an examination of the CD so that those who resisted the police can be clearly identified.”
Lawyers Korkmaz and Polat said they did not agree with the final opinion and demanded that the prosecutor issue separate final opinions regarding each defendant. Lawyer Demirhan requested a continuance for their statement in response to the final opinion.
In an interim ruling, the judge rejected the request for a re-examination of the footage since an expert report on the footage was previously submitted to court. Granting defense lawyers time to prepare their statements in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion, the court adjourned the trial until 23 November 2021.
The pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily was temporarily closed on 16 August 2016 by an order of the Istanbul 8th Criminal Judgeship of Peace, which cited “terrorism propaganda” as the grounds for the order. Police teams raided the head office of Özgür Gündem the same day to implement the court’s order.
A total of 22 journalists and media workers who were at the scene during the raid, including Özgür Gündem staffers and fellow journalists who were covering the raid, were violently detained by the police. All 22 journalists were released on 18 August, after spending three days in police custody.
An indictment was issued against the 22 journalists on 29 September 2017, more than one year after the raid. Three officers from the police teams that conducted the raid were named as complainants in the indictment.