2nd October 2018: Jailed novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan, his brother, professor of economics and newspaper columnist Mehmet Altan and their co-defendants have given their final defense statements before a Regional Court of Justice in what marked the second hearing in the appeal process. The Altans are Board members of SRT grantee Platform for Independent Journalism (P24).
At the end of the hearing, the 2nd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice rejected the appeals against the aggravated life sentences given in February by the trial court, and ruled for the continuation of detention of all imprisoned defendants in the case. The case is now headed for the Supreme Court of Appeals.
In February, the 26th High Criminal Court of Istanbul had sentenced the Altans and five of their co-defendants to aggravated life imprisonment for ‘attempting to overthrow the constitutional order’ as per Article 309 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK). The first appeal hearing was on 21 September, when the prosecutor submitted his final opinion, requesting that all six defendants be given aggravated life sentences on the same charge.
In addition to P24, opposition MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu and a representative from English PEN monitored the hearing.
Stating that his detention was in violation of the constitution, Mehmet Altan said the aggravated life imprisonment given by the trial court was also a violation of the same kind and added that the trial court’s refusal to implement the Constitutional Court ruling marked a first in the history of law in Turkey. Altan said that the appellate court’s ruling for his release was proof that he was detained despite not being guilty.
Addressing the court following Altan, his lawyer, Figen Albuga Çalıkuşu, said the trial court neglected the evidence and denied the defense the right to interrogate witnesses in court. Çalıkuşu said that the appeal trial also included similar unlawful practices. She explained: ‘The witness was supposed to be heard at court, but no summons was issued for the witness. We [the defense] found out in the first appeal hearing on 21 September that the witness was already heard on 19 September. This is in violation of the procedures laid out by the law.’
Full coverage of the Court’s decision is available on P24’s website at http://platform24.org/en/articles/694/court-rejects-appeals-against-life-sentences-in-altans-case.
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