The first hearing of the “Kobanî trial” started at the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court in Sincan Campus today (April 26).
There are 108 defendants from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP); while 28 people have been arrested pending trial, there are judicial control measures on six and warrants against 75 people.
Facing charges over the “Kobanî protests of October 6-8” in 2014, the politicians face a life sentence aggravated for 38 times each.
‘Here, the truth will put the lie on trial’
Before the hearing started, HDP Co-Chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan made a statement in front of the Sincan Campus. During the press statement, the police made an announcement, demanding that the group disperse on the grounds of “social distance” amid pandemic.
Speaking about the police announcement, Sancar said, “They think that they can drown out the voice of the truth, our voice.” Noting that “they will keep struggling for peace and for democracy,” he said:
“The first hearing of the case of a political plot called Kobanî trial will start soon. We wanted to come together and make a statement before the hearing, but – as you see – they have put up a wall between us.This is yet another indication that they are afraid of the truth.
“They think that they can drown out our voice, but they are wrong. They thought that they could intimidate us in this trial, but we will also show from now on that they are wrong.
“This is a case of a political plot. This is a quest for ending the search for peace, longing for freedom and hope for democracy in Turkey. We will keep on resisting for freedom, democracy and truth.
“This is also a case of political revenge. This is a case which is the product of the rage of the government which has not yet been able to come to terms with ISIS’s defeat in Kobanî in 2014.
“This is also a case of revenge which is a product of the defeats that the HDP has made this government suffer. We will shatter this together.”
Concluding his remarks, Mithat Sancar thanked everyone who has come both from Turkey and abroad to follow the case.
The hearing is followed by HDP’s Parliamentary Group, representatives of Progressive International and other international delegations, bar association chairs, political party and civil society representatives.
Lawyers left outside the hall
Shortly after this statement, the Lawyers for Freedom Association posted a message, sharing the below information from the court hall:
“They have positioned riot police officers at the attorneys’ seats. Their attorneys are not admitted into the hearing. Our clients do not respond to the identity check conducted by the court board on the grounds that the attorneys are not admitted into the hearing.”
Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) also said that the attorneys had been protesting the court board:
“We are in the courtroom with our members and colleagues from our several branches for the first hearing of the Kobanî trial. As the police are made to sit at the attorneys’ seats, several attorneys are waiting outside the hall. The door of the hall is shut in the face of attorneys.
“The defense attorneys are protesting the court board. After the presiding judge said that he would order the ones disturbing the order of the hearing out of the courtroom, the attorneys said that they would write down minutes and go outside if their colleagues were not admitted into the room. After the presiding judge said, ‘We can hold the trial without you, too’, the attorneys are leaving the courtroom by applauding in protest.”
Attending the hearing via the Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS), former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş and the other arrested defendants also protested the court board by applauding.
‘Plaintiffs’ attorneys are here, ours not’
The court board wanted to start the hearing by doing an identity check.
As reported by the HDP, the following defendants were in the courtroom: Günay Kubilay, Alp Altınörs, Beyza Üstün, Emine Ayna, Bircan Yorulmaz, Ali Ürküt, Ayla Akat, Sebahat Tuncel, Bülent Parmaksız, İbrahim Binici, İsmail Şengül, Mesut Bağcık, Nezir Çakan, Zeki Çelik, Ayşe Yağcı, Berfin Köse, Meryem Adıbelli, Pervin Oduncu, Dilek Yağlı.
The defendants objected to a trial without their attorneys.
Defendant Alp Altınörs said, “Doing an identity check without the presence of my attorney is not lawful. I have the right to benefit from defense support at every stage of the trial. All of the attorneys of the plaintiffs are here, but our attorneys are not here.”
Ayla Akat Ata also stated, “It is impossible for me to answer your questions for the identity check under these circumstances. That this trial has started in this way, without attorneys, proves that it is a political case.”
The attorneys of the defendants left the courtroom. They made a press statement in front of the hall after leaving.
During the identity check, the HDP politicians protested the absence of their attorneys, refusing to answer the questions.
Defendants made the following remarks:
Imprisoned former HDP Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ: “I greet all my friends in the courtroom. Our right of defense must be fulfilled. The fact that my right of defense is not acknowledged is an indication of how the court board will hear the case. This is a political attitude.”
Jailed politician Sebahat Tuncel: “You turned off her voice while our Co-Chair was speaking. You have to listen. We will defend defending our rights as well. The law is binding for all of us, you do not enforce your own law. I will speak loudly if you turn off my microphone.”
Gültan Kışanak: “Do what your laws require you to do. You will first abide by the right of defense. If this right is hindered, it means a judgement has been handed down in the beginning by the instruction of the palace.”
Selahattin Demirtaş: “If you want to proceed in this trial, you can call our attorneys. You have been trying putschists for years, don’t mistake us for them. We don’t fear anything other than God. You cannot raise your voice before us or our attorneys. We are the people’s representatives.”
Sırrı Süreyya Önder also stated that he would not answer the questions without the presence of his attorneys in the court hall.
Dismissing the protests of the defendants and their attorneys, the court board proceeded the hearing with the identity check of plaintiffs.
The hearing was recessed until 2 p.m.
‘We are concerned about fair trial’
The session started again following the recess at 2 p.m. and the attorneys were admitted into the court hall. The attorneys made their statements as to the procedure. Taking the floor, attorney Mesut Beştaş said, “We want all incidents cited in this file to be brought into light. The attitude of the court so far has made us more concerned about a fair trial.”
Beştaş said that their right of defense was hindered:
“We raised a request for meeting you. The main aim of this meeting was to ensure the cooperation of the defense counsel, the involving party, the prosecution and the court on a legal basis to bring this incident into light. However, while entering the hearing in the morning, some attorneys were not even allowed into the courtroom. In addition to this, none of the defense counsels was allowed to tell their opinions as to the file.
“Within this framework, I would like to say that the attitudes of your court so far have not been on a scale that we have desired and they are making us more concerned about a fair trial.”
Before the indictment was read out, attorney Mesut Beştaş also expressed his objections to the file. Noting that the indictment was lodged based on the incidents of October 6-8, Beştaş said:”
“There are several lawsuits filed into these incidents. We are faced with conditions removing the conditions of a fair trial during both the investigation process and the prosecution process.
“Our clients have been faced with them the most. None of the defense counsels can be as informed about the file as the ones put on trial. We know that our client Selahattin Demirtaş wants to take the floor to express them. Thus, we request that the client be given the right to speak to present his justification in such a way to perhaps include the recusal as well.”
After Beştaş, Demirtaş’s attorney Mahsuni Karaman also took the floor and requested that Demirtaş be given the right to speak, adding that they will express their requests after his objections.
Afterwards, the attorneys of Figen Yüksekdağ and Sebahat Tuncel also requested that their clients take the floor to make statements
Following the requests raised by the defendants’ attorneys, the prosecutor’s office presented the opinion as to the accusations, demanding that “the requests be rejected and – in the current stage – the procedural provisions continue after the indictments are read out.”
The court board ruled that the requests should be rejected as they did not comply with the procedures. The board also unanimously concluded that the request for recusal to be raised by Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ and Sebahat Tuncel could be made in written form.
The court board moved on to read out the indictment, which sparked reactions in court. The attorneys protested by hitting the tables.
Demirtaş: Where is 128 billion dollars?
Not allowed to speak, Selahattin Demirtaş held a paper in his hand which read, “Where is 128 billion dollars?,” referring to the missing reserves of the Central Bank brought into the agenda by the opposition.
He also held another message that reads, “Write down my request for taking the floor in the minutes, give an interim ruling.” Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ and Sebahat Tuncel objected to the indictment being read out, saying, “You cannot proceed with this trial like this.”
“Kobanê trial” in Ankara to continue on May 18
A summary of the 3,530-pages indictment was read because of the lack of defense. A motion of bias against the judges was rejected. The “Kobani trial” in Ankara will not resume until May 18. The reason given was the Corona lockdown in Turkey. At the start of the trial on Monday, the hearing was initially postponed until May 3.