Selahattin Demirtaş: Erdoğan, Bahçeli and Soylu sit in the judge’s seat

The second hearing of the “Kobanî trial” began at the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court in Sincan Campus today (May 18).

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.

Hearing the statements of jailed former HDP Co-Chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the court board has adjourned the hearing until May 20 after the attorneys expressed their requests. Despite the requests of the attorneys, the arrest of the politicians was not examined.

In the trial over the “Kobanî protests of October 6-8, 2014”, politicians face life imprisonment aggravated for 38 times.

NOTE: In the first hearing of the case held on April 26, 2021, the attorneys of the defendants requested recusal; it was not accepted.

In addition to the experts from the European Union (EU) Delegation to Turkey, the second hearing is also followed by representatives from the diplomatic representatives of the EU member countries.

The hearing is attended by representatives and chairs of several bar associations across Turkey, including Urfa, Diyarbakır, Van, Mardin, Muş and İzmir. Several MPs from the HDP as well as the provincial and district executives of the party and women’s organizations also watch the hearing.

‘An examination should be held at every hearing’

As reported by Mezopotamya Agency (MA), the prosecutor’s office indicated that the request for recusal had not yet been concluded and that the defense statements as to the accusations should not be taken for this reason. The prosecutor demanded the reply of the court board regarding the pronouncement of the request for the examination of the arrest.

The court board said that the examination of the arrest could not be held as 30 days had not yet passed. The board did not take the request of the prosecutor’s office. The court board also read out the documents added to the file. The board announced that an expert had been assigned to examine the statement of Selahattin Demirtaş about Kobanî.

Mehmet Emin Aktar, the attorney of imprisoned former Co-Chair of the HDP Selahattin Demirtaş, took the floor afterwards and said that the arrest of the defendants should be examined at every hearing:

“In response to the prosecutor’s request, you said that 30 days have not passed. 30 days is the maximum time, but in cases where there are so many accusations, an examination of arrest should be held at every hearing. Now, you will give us, the attorneys and the arrested defendants, the floor to speak, then you will hand down an interim judgement and adjourn the hearing. You must do an examination of arrest.”

Regarding the expert assignment of the court board to examine Demirtaş’s speech, the attorney said, “The speech that you want to have examined has been cited as criminal evidence in the indictment. It proves that this indictment was prepared with political motives.”

The court board said that the attorneys would be given the floor to speak and asked them for a division of work among themselves. The attorneys responded, “According to the laws, attorneys have the right to speak without a court decision. We know our powers. It is not at the discretion of the court to decide whether we will do a division of labor among ourselves.”

Demirtaş: A case of plot, political revenge

While the hearing was about to start, no cell phones were reportledly admitted into the courtroom. Following the identity check, the hearing started. Imprisoned former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş took the floor first. Attending the hearing from the Edirne Prison via the Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS), Demirtaş briefly stated the following:

“I am sorry that the politicians who made sacrifices for the peace, democracy and freedom of Turkey are sitting in defendants’ seats.

“This case is not the Kobanî Case; this case is a case of plot and political revenge targeting the HDP. The Kobanî Case will be filed one day and the real responsible parties, the ones who committed massacres and those who instigated them will be brought to light. But everyone must be sure about this: When that day comes, we will not be the ones sitting in defendants’ seats.

“We will reveal the reasons behind this plot. The case itself, its aims and objectives are purely political. The merits of the indictment have no value at all. In this case, the procedure is more important than merits.

“It is the first time in history that a political party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) – Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), is trying to put the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on trial.

“In reality, there are no judges or prosecutors in this trial. [President, AKP Chair Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, [MHP Chair Devlet] Bahçeli and [Minister of Interior Süleyman] Soylu sit in the seat of the judge, while the pro-government media and troll army sit in the seat of the prosecutor. Parties compete against one another at the Parliament, at squares, at the ballot box.

“Even in the most fascistic periods, no party entered the courtroom in judge robes. We will not let people’s will be crushed in this case of plot. I say the following to the society of Turkey: The wheel is going to turn!

“I have difficulty in making defense without having an attorney by my side. I am now making defense in the SEGBİS room without the presence of an attorney. I cannot come to the courtroom due to my chronic disorders. The indictment has not been notified to me.

Reasons for request for recusal

“The indictment was sent to you on December 30, 2020. While your court heard another trial for the following three workdays after the official holiday, it says that it examined an indictment consisting of 3,530 pages. It would take 9 days if it was read 24/7 without any break.

“Your court is openly distorting it. It is impossible to examine this indictment and to write down minutes in this time. We will request an investigation against your court. There is a doubt about this.

“40 days before the ECtHR judgement was announced, Erdoğan said, ‘Our judiciary will do the necessary.’ Since the indictment was delivered to you, you have been following this instruction!

“18 hours after the preliminary proceedings report was uploaded to the National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP), MHP Vice Chair Fethi Yıldız tweeted and that was how Turkey heard about it.

“Only the attorneys of the case and the court board can enter the UYAP. How could Fethi Yıldız know about this? We will appeal to the Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) and file a criminal complaint.

“The court board was not content with doing a counterfeit translation, it also did forgery in the translation. It practiced a deceit to use the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgement against me. The most critical sentence in the ECtHR judgement has been miswritten in the minutes. This is a serious crime and it has been confirmed by documents.

“The ECtHR judgement was opened for signature on November 12 and pronounced on December 22. The ECtHR pronounced its judgement 40 days later; but some people must have heard about the judgement. The elder brother of the Turkish judge at the ECtHR is a member of the AKP’s Central Decision Making and Administrative Committee. 20 days before the pronouncement of the judgement, [President, AKP Chair Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and [MHP Chair Devlet] Bahçeli made harsh statements about me.”

Concluding his remarks, Demirtaş said:

“I want the hearing to be adjourned till July 2023. You cannot judge independently in the current conditions. Withdraw and give an interim ruling. As there is no longer the opportunity to judge independently of the political power holders in the current conditions of Turkey, as it has been confirmed by the evidence that I presented that the court board is partial, and as there is no impartial court that can hear this trial, just say, ‘We rule for the release of everyone, except for Demirtaş’ and I will applaud you.”

‘We have to be loyal to truth’

The hearing continued  with the defense of Figen Yüksekdağ, the imprisoned former Co-Chair of the HDP. In her defense, Yüksekdağ talked about her reasons for requesting recusal. She briefly said:

“First of all, I agree with all points made by Selahattin Demirtaş. In fact, from the very beginning, we have been saying this here: We are not faced with a fair trial and it is actually difficult to discuss the procedure. The major reason behind our request for recusal is this.

“If we will reveal the truth in the real sense of the term, if we are really struggling here to bring the responsible ones to account for the lives that were claimed, we first need to remain loyal to the truth. They are now trying to proceed this hearing with a formal imposition. We are expected to make a reasonable statement through this upside-down form.”