Pınar Selek Acquitted Once More

The Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court insisted on its decision for the acquittal of sociologist Pınar Selek for the third time. Her hearing was observed by numerous Turkish and international observers. Selek applied to the ECHR for compensation

Istanbul - BİA News Center, 10 February 2011

Sociologist Pınar Selek was one of five people whose cases were re-tried after the Court of Appeals 9th Chamber had quashed the related verdicts of the local courts. Selek's second hearing was held on Wednesday (9 Februray) at the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court.

The court decided for the acquittal of Pınar Selek for the third time. She was represented by about 30 lawyers at the Wednesday hearing. Selek, currently residing in Germany, did not attend the hearing at the Beşiktaş (Istanbul) Courthouse.

Joint attorney Bahri Belen claimed at court that the reversal of the local court's judgement by the Court of Appeals was politically motivated and contrary to the law. Belen requested the court insist on its initial decision.

Selek's father and lawyer Alp Selek declared, "They said that Pınar had a bomb but it was not like that". He presented a related expert report to court. Lawyer Ayhan Erdoğan made a presentation and used several visuals to demonstrate why the reason for the explosion at the Spice Bazar was not a bomb.

Public Prosecutor Nuri Ahmet Saraçoğlu demanded to follow the recommendation of the Court of Appeals Criminal Chamber to hand down a life sentence to Selek.

Lawyer Atalay: We expect the prosecutor not to appeal

bianet talked to joint attorney of the defence Akın Atalay after the hearing.

"This decision was actually expected. It is in accordance with the law and the legislation written by the state. But the procedures until now were so unjust that we are even happy about this normal decision that should have been given anyways. We expect the prosecutor not to appeal", Atalay indicated.

International support for Selek

Many observers from Turkey and abroad followed the Wednesday hearing, among them German writer Günter Wallraf, Head of the PEN German Centre Christa Schuenke, Hélène Flautre as the Co-president of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Barbara Lochbihler from the European Parliament, writer Yaşar Kemal, Rakel Dink, widow of slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) President Süleyman Çelebi, columnist Yıldırım Türker, actress Lale Mansur, jouranlist Oral Çalışlar, Turkish Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) Chair Alper Taş, actor Mustafa Alabora, writer Adalet Ağaoğlu, writer Karin Krakaşlı, Prof. Ahmet İnsel, Peace and Democracy Party MP Akın Birdal and Sema Kılıçer as the political advisor of the European Union Turkey delegation.

A group of about 50 people issued a press release in front of the courthouse before the hearing. They carried banners that featured a picture of Pınar Selek and read "We are all witnesses and we are still waiting for justice". Helene Flautre read out the statement on behalf of the group. "Pınar Selek pays a very high price for trying to understand the PKK (militant Kurdistan Workers Party) and the Kurdish question during a time of a police state in which torture became systematic. We expect Selek to be acquitted again today".

Court of Appeals suggested 'life sentence'

Pınar Selek is tried in the scope of the blast on the Spice Bazar in 1998. She was acquitted because the reason for the explosion that left seven people dead could not be fully determined. The Court of Appeals 9th Criminal Chamber quashed the verdict for her acquittal and requested the court to sentence Selek. Thereupon, the case returned to the Istanbul court which insisted on its previous decision and once again ruled for Selek's acquittal.

The file was forwarded to the Court of Appeals for a second time. The superior court demanded Selek's prosecution for a life sentence. The Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor objected the decision upon the request of Selek's lawyers. The file was then reviewed by the Court of Appeals Criminal General Assembly. The assembly upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Application to the ECHR

Subsequent to the decision of the Court of Appeals, Selek applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and demanded a "new just prosecution" and "compensation for non-pecuniary damage". She applied to the Strasbourg court on the grounds of "failing of a fair trial" and "exposure to torture". In her petition submitted to the ECHR she wrote, "The principles of the independence and neutrality of the judiciary were being violated. The judiciary was influenced by illegally generated evidence". (EG/BB/VK)