Court to consider the request to separate the file against Taş after reviewing the European Court of Human Rights judgment; trial adjourned until October
CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL
The second hearing of the retrial of journalists Ahmet Memiş, Ali Akkuş, Cemal Azmi Kalyoncu, Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, Ünal Tanık, Yakup Çetin, Yetkin Yıldız and musician Atilla Taş, who was a newspaper columnist between 2015 and 2016, was held on 31 March 2021 at the Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court.
All eight were convicted in 2018 in the case publicly known as the "FETÖ media trial," where 26 defendants faced "terror" charges over alleged ties with the Fethullah Gülen network. Their convictions were overturned last year by the 16th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which held that Memiş, Kalyoncu, Çulhaoğlu, Tanık, Çetin and Yıldız should have been charged with "aiding a terrorist organization without being its member" instead of "membership in a terrorist organization" and that Taş, who was convicted of "aiding a terrorist organization," should be charged with "insulting the president" and "publicly degrading the institutions and organs of the state."
P24 monitored the hearing, where all seven journalists and their lawyers were in attendance. Taş, who did not attend, was represented by his lawyer.
Yusuf Ahmet Kaymak, who was heard as a witness at the hearing, stated that he knew Kalyoncu and Akkuş because of their work at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper and that he had no knowledge of their “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Journalists Memiş, Kalyoncu, Tanık, Çetin and Yıldız, who made their defense statements in response to the new accusations during the previous hearing, asked the court to lift the judicial control measures against them.
Çulhaoğlu, who addressed the court for his defense statement, said he rejected the new accusation and demanded to be acquitted: “I have always fought against this organization [FETÖ]. I didn’t help or support them. I reject the Supreme Court of Appeals’ reversal judgment in this respect.”
Addressing the court next, Taş’s lawyer Sevgi Kalan reminded the court of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment regarding Taş’s application, and said that the evidence against her client was evaluated by the ECtHR, which held that “none of the decisions concerning his initial and continued pre-trial detention contained evidence capable of establishing a plausible link between his articles and tweets of a political nature and the terrorism-related offences of which he was accused.”
Asserting that ECtHR judgments are binding, Kalan asked the court to separate the file against Taş and rule for his acquittal.
Çetin told the court that he would make a detailed defense statement after the court hears witness statements. Rejecting the new charge in the Supreme Court of Appeals decision, Çetin demanded to be acquitted and asked the court to lift the judicial control measures imposed on him.
In their interim ruling, the court panel decided to lift the monthly signature obligation judicial control measure imposed on the defendants but ruled for the continuation of their travel ban. Deciding to initiate procedures for the witnesses to be heard at the next hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 26 October. The court decided to consider the request for Taş’s file to be separated after reviewing the ECtHR judgment.