Two academics have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months and one has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison in February 11th hearings. The court has also ruled that academic Gülsün Güvenli shall visit a ‘martyr’s family’.

The trial of the Peace Academics, who have been charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” for having signed the declaration entitled “We will not be a party to this crime” prepared by the Academics for Peace, continued in Istanbul.

The hearings of nine academics in three courts have been held: At the İstanbul 25th Heavy Penal Court: Second hearings of Hilal Alkan from 29 May University and Bülent Bilmez from Bilgi University.At the İstanbul 36th Heavy Penal Court: Third hearing of retired historian of architecture Prof. Dr. Bülent Tanju.

At the İstanbul 37th Heavy Penal Court: Second hearings of research assistants Şenay Çınar and Zeynep Arıkan Yılmaz, Sakine Çil and Dr. Lecturer Meltem Gürle from Boğaziçi University and fourth hearings of Hatice Kurtuluş Aydal from İstanbul University and Gülsün Güvenli from Galatasaray University.

Deferred prison sentence for three academics

Two academics have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months and one has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison in today’s hearings. 

Prof. Dr. Bülent Tanju and his attorney Tora Pekin submitted their final defense statements to the 36th Heavy Penal Court in written form. The Prosecutor’s Office repeated its opinion as to the accusations, which it gave on November 8, 2018.

Tanju stated that he signed the declaration for peace and does not accept the accusations. The court has sentenced Tanju to 1 year and 6 months in prison for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization,” then reduced the sentence to 1 year and 3 months. It has deferred the announcement of the verdict.

“I am a person who strived against violence to this day”

Academic Hatice Kurtuluş Aydal, in his final defense statement at the 37th Heavy Penal Court, said,

“I have been a political person for 40 years and an academic, a social scientist for 30 years. I am a person who has strived against violence to this day. I do not believe that I am guilty. I do not believe that the text constitutes a crime legally.” Kurtuluş Aydal requested her acquittal.

The court sentenced Aydal to 1 year and 6 months in prison. The announcement of the verdict has been deferred.

“To regret, there must be criminal intent”

The last hearing of the day was Galatasaray University academic Gülsün Güvenli’s final hearing, which has been held at the 37th Heavy Penal Court.

When the presiding judge asked Güvenli “Do you regret?” she replied, “To regret, there must be criminal intent. There is no crime here.”

The court has sentenced Güvenli to 1 year and 3 months in prison. The announcement of the verdict has been deferred.

The court has also ruled that Güvenli shall be on probation for 5 years.

Making a condolence visit to a ‘martyr’s family’

The court has given an unprecedented ruling, making it obligatory for Güvenli to visit a ‘martyr’s family’.

The court has ruled that Güvenli shall pay a visit to the family of Ahmet Çamur, who was killed on August 5, 2015 as a result of an attack from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Güvenli has said after the announcement of the verdict, “I’d be honored. I am against all deaths. I signed the declaration with this aim.”

About the Trials of Academics

On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled “We will not be party to this crime” on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.

With the participation of further academics, the number of academics who have signed the declaration has reached 2,212.

With the indictment issued by the Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt, lawsuits were filed against the academics on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law No. 3713.

As of February 12, 2019, 472 academics had stood trial since December 5, 2017, all the 99 academics whose cases were concluded have been sentenced to prison. 89 of these academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison; 4 academics to 1 year and 6 months in prison; one academic to 2 years and 3 months in prison; two academics have been sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison; one academic has been sentenced to 2 years and 1 month in prison; and one academic to 3 years in prison.

The suspension of the pronouncement of the verdict

Until today, 11 academics have not accepted that the announcement of their verdicts be deferred. While seven of these academics have been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, one academic has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months, one academic to 2 years and 6 months and one academic to 3 years in prison. The verdict of one academic has not been pronounced by the court yet.

The court board of the 36th Heavy Penal Court has reduced the prison sentences of academics who did not demand the suspension of the pronouncement of their verdicts and deferred their sentences on a 2-year probation. The 32nd Heavy Penal Court has made reductions in the sentences; however, it has not deferred them. The 37th Heavy Penal Court has neither reduced nor deferred the pronouncement of the verdicts.

Three academics were not asked about whether they requested the suspension of the pronouncement of their verdicts. While one of these three academics has been sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in prison, one of them has been sentenced to 1 year and 3 months and the other academic to 2 year and 3 months in prison.

The prison sentences of academics, the announcement of whose verdicts has not been suspended since their sentence is over two years, will be taken to the court of appeal. The court of appeal will either uphold or reverse the verdict.

On March 10, 2016, the Academics for Peace made a statement for press and shared with the public what they had been going through since the declaration “We will not be a party to this crime” was published. The academics Dr. Lecturer Esra Mungan, Dr. Lecturer Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kıvanç Ersoy (March 15, 2016) and Dr. Lecturer Meral Camcı (March 31, 2016), who read out the statement for press, were arrested on charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” as per the Article No. 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Law. They were released on April 2016. Upon the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice granted a permission of trial as per the Article No. 301 of the Turkish Penal Code No. 301 on charges of “insulting the Turkish Nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey and the institutions and organs of the government.”

Source: Hikmet Adal, Bianet English