President of dissolved YARSAV and 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize winner, Murat ARSLAN was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 18 January 2019 over the pretext of terrorism charges. Moreover court ruled continuation of his detention during appeal period.
Some representatives from different European institutions and associations have been observing the trials of Murat ARSLAN. After the conviction, many HR defenders, judges and judicial associations such as EAJ, AEAJ, MEDEL and J4J from Europe condemned the decision due to lack of fair trial.
Not surprisingly, there is no visible reaction from bars or judicial associations in Turkey which are known as critics of Erdogan Regime. One of the dismissed judges, former member of YARSAV, Murat DURMAZ slams his former colleagues because of their silence about ARSLAN’s being sentenced:
“I do not know what to say to those who had actively worked in YARSAV with Arslan but did not show the courage to appear in hearings even for once when their history was being put on trial, who could not react to Arslan’s conviction even on Tweeter… “
Previously, former board member of dissolved YARSAV, judge Mehmet TANK was sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in prison on 19 April 2018.
International Associations of Judges (IAJ) shared a report on 19 January written by observers of the trials as follows:
“We received yesterday the sad news concerning the sentencing of our dearest colleague, President of YARSAV and 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize laureate Murat Arslan.
This is the report of the mock trial held by a Turkish Court which sentenced Murat Arslan to ten years imprisonment. The identity of the eyewitness author of this report, is here undisclosed: it is known only by the members of the IAJ Presidency Committee and of the Secretariat-General, who assure about the autenticity of the news.
We thought it was right to spread this news in order to show to the world the outrageous way justice is rendered in a country like Turkey, which is no longer a country ruled by the rule of law principle and unworthy to be part of the international community:
“Dear Friends of free Turkey,
The last hearing was really worth to see. First, our Arslan (Arslan means lion in Turkish) delivered a very inspirational speech and indicated that this is not a defense this is a speech that is being delivered to next generation for the future’s true jurists who will uphold rule of law, not for the present panel. He was defiant in his tone as always the case. He despised the panel and openly said that. I will translate the speech as a whole when I get it from the lawyer.
The panel was so intimidated, so quite. They just sit there and listen without reaction. When lawyer demanded an extension of the investigation, the panel just rejected all the defense pleas in this sort and keep continue.
I must remind you that there is no one judge in this tree judge panel that presided over all the hearings from beginning to end. Thus no judge saw what happened in the courtroom from beginning to end. Last hearing was the second time that the head of the court presided over the case. Turkish criminal law orders that all hearings must be in front of the judge who will deliver the judgment.
After all pleas are rejected, lawyers decided to not to continue their job because it was useless. The court was listening to them all the time that was correct but there was no intention to investigate the truth. They did not try to resolve the issue of conflicting data about technical issues or about affidavits. No, there was no need to clarify anything, this was their attitude from beginning to the end because the result was already decided.
After defense lawyers rejected the panel totally because of the lack of impartiality The panel rejected this rejection. This rejection, according to procedural law, must be taken to another court to analyze but the court refused this as well. At this point, lawyers decided to resign. After resignation, even the prosecutor indicated that new lawyer must be appointed by The Bar Association due to the gravity of the allegation. The panel went back to their deliberation room and come back a couple of minutes later. Then rejected the idea that new lawyers must be appointed and hastily announced that they find Arslan guilty and sentence him 10 years in prison without any reasoning or citing any evidence whatsoever. After the decision is announced everyone in the courtroom reacted and applauded the court as a show of protest. Some people shouted and said that you will be accounted for what you have done here. Sevilay (wife of Arslan) shouted and said: “I wonder how you are going to go to your houses and look into the eyes of your children shame on you” she was courageous but affected deeply of course. Another old friend of us shouted, “I spend 20 years in criminal courts as a judge but I have never seen any trial like this what a shame”. Judges could not say anything even a word just stood there in silence.
Security hastily cleared the room. Arslan showed no reaction because he knew what was going to happen so this was not a surprise for anybody.
We say this is not an end just a beginning.