Speaking to bianet, lawyer Sevimli has said, “In the current situation, the risk of death is gradually getting higher” while main opposition CHP’s Bekaroğlu has noted that a public pressure is a must for the state to respond to death fasts.

Sentenced to 13 years, 6 months and 10 years, 6 months in prison for “membership of an organization,” arrested lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal have been on a death fast for their right to a fair trial. With each passing day, their death fast is approaching a life-critical stage.

Arrested in Silivri Closed Prison at the outskirts of İstanbul, Ebru Timtik has been on a death fast for 203 days. Lawyer Güçlü Sevimli from the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) visited his colleague in prison on Saturday (July 11). Speaking to bianet about his visit, Sevimli has said:

“She has thinned a lot. Barkın, her sibling with whom she stays together, has said that she now weighs less than 40 kilos. The black discoloration on her hands, which she has had for a long time now, is still there. As she is not examined by a physician, we cannot know its cause.

‘It is seen that she is in a critical stage now’

“The sores on her throat and mouth have multiplied. That is why she was having great difficulty in speaking. She cannot talk for a long time anyway.

“She had her water with her, but she could hardly drink it due to her sores. Physically speaking, it is understood that she has reached the critical stage in her fast. She was looking really weak. But she was in good spirits.”

‘We hope the court will make a quick judgement’

Sevimli has reminded us that the file of the arrested lawyers is now examined by the Court of Cassation: “We expect that the Court of Cassation give a quick and positive judgement. Because the judicial recess will start on July 20 and the files will not be heard till September.

“In the current situation, the risk of death is gradually getting higher. We wish that the Court of Cassation will reverse the judgement and give a ruling of release. We expect the judgement of the Court of Cassation to be handed down before the judicial recess starts.

“It is what is supposed to happen anyway, this file needs to be reversed. It is not us who say this, but the law. A trial was held in violation of the law on procedure. In the very first hearing, the court board gave a ruling of release for all arrested defendants. But after the board changed, a new ruling of arrest was given. We hope that the Court will not uphold this injustice.”

‘Request for examination by TTB, TİHV rejected’

Speaking to bianet about the issue, lawyer Oğuz Topalkara from the People’s Law Bureau (HHB) previously said:

“Ebru Timtik wants to be examined by physicians from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) or Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV). We made an application for this, but it has been rejected. Doctors come from the hospital from time to time and examine her.”

Bekaroğlu: Public pressure is a must

Mehmet Bekaroğlu, the İstanbul MP of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has also spoken to bianet. Bekaroğlu was among the people, together with writers Yaşar Kemal and Orhan Pamuk, who mediated between the death fasters in 2000s and the state.

Bekaroğlu has briefly stated the following about the issue:

“I also made negotiations for [Grup Yorum’s] İbrahim Gökçek and Helin Bölek, and Mustafa Koçak, who lost their lives during death fasts.

“I am also negotiating for the lawyers. However, there is a wall. It was different in the 2000s. There was a high public pressure and sensitivity back then, there is no such sensitivity now.

‘Justice Minister is not the decision maker’

“Justice Ministry listens, also expressing its sadness, but says that it cannot do anything. There are bureaucrats from the previous periods, they are the decision makers. They say, ‘We are following up and doing the necessary,’ but what they do is to release when they come to the verge of death. They think ‘May they not die in prison, let them die outside’ and act accordingly.

“Public pressure is needed. In the 2000s, there used to be 30 cameras waiting in front of the prisons when we made a meeting in prisons. Public pressure is no more now.”

What happened?

Announcing its verdict in the lawsuit filed against ÇHD lawyers on March 20, the court ruled that the lawyers should be sentenced to 3 years, 1 month, 15 days to 18 years, 9 months in prison.

The 2nd Penal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court of Justice rejected the objections and sent the file to the Court of Cassation.

The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation expressed opinion that the prison sentences of all lawyers, except for the one given to lawyer Barkın Timtik, be upheld.

The letter of notification only indicated that the prison sentence of 18 years, 9 months given to Barkın Timtik for “establishing and leading an organization” as per the Article 314/1 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) should be overturned and he should also be penalized for “membership of an organization” like other lawyers.

The letter of notification issued by the prosecutor’s office has been sent to the 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation.

Lawyer Ebru Timtik, an executive of the ÇHD, and lawyer Aytaç Ünsal, a member of the ÇHD, have gone on a death fast for the right to a fair trial.

Bianet – 13.07.2020

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